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VOL.1 A Critical Analysis 
of Capitalist Production 



Edited by p^ 

ederick Eneels hM 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2007 with funding from 

Microsoft Corporation 

335.411 Marx 
vol . 1 


3 3333 05602 6665 




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Volume I 


'PfoQfo'P^ ' PQ'OC 

Das Kapital. 

Kritik der politischen Oekonomie. 


Karl Iff ar x, 

Erster Band 
Bach I : Der Prodaktioneproeess des Kapital*. 

* m I CQJ I ■! m 


Verlag von Otto Meissner. 


New- York L W. Schmidt, 24 Barclay-Street. 

>' 0CU'CA!/0Ol <Sgfog)O 

Cover of the First German Edition of CAPITAL, Vol. I 


A Critique of Political Economy 






New York 

Published 1967 by 

International Publishers Co., Inc. 

381 Park Avenue South New York NY. 10016 



The present edition of Volume I of Capital is published on 
the occasion of the 100th Anniversary of the first German 
edition. Reproduced here is the text of the English edition of 
1887, edited by Frederick Engels (published by Swan Son- 
nenschein, Lowry & Co., London), and as corrected by Prog- 
ress Publishers, Moscow, in their edition of 1965. 

The changes made by Engels in the fourth (1890) German 
edition have been incorporated into the 1887 English text. 
These changes are indicated wherever they occur. The 
editors have also rechecked original sources and have made 
the necessary corrections in the author's footnotes. 

Following Engels' preface to the first English edition, the 
editors have added all the Prefaces and Afterwords by Marx 
and Engels to the German and French editions. The Index of 
Authorities has been rechecked and a Name Index is 

Tenth printing 1983 

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 67-19754 

ISBN 0-7178-0017-2 

Printed in the United States of America 


To My Unforgettable Friend 


Intrepid, Faithful, Noble Protagonist of the Proletariat 

Born in Tarnau on June 21, 1809 

Died in Exile in Manchester on May 9, 1864 




Preface to the English Edition 3 


Preface to the First German Edition 7 

Afterword to the Second German Edition 12 

Preface to the French Edition 21 

Afterword to the French Edition , 22 

Preface to the Third German Edition 23 

Preface to the Fourth German Edition 26 



CHAPTER /.— Commodities 35 

Section 1.— The Two Factors of a Commodity: Use-Value and 

Value (the Substance of Value and the Magnitude of Value) 35 
Section 2.— The Two-fold Character of the Labour Embodied 

in Commodities 41 

Section 3.— The Form of Value or Exchange-Value 47 

A. Elementary or Accidental Form of Value 48 

1 . The Two Poles of the Expression of Value: Relative 

Form and Equivalent Form 48 

2. The Relative Form of Value 49 

a. The Nature and Import of this Form 49 

b. Quantitative Determination of Relative Value. ... 53 

3. The Equivalent Form of Value 55 

4. The Elementary Form of Value Considered as a Whole . 60 

B. Total or Expanded Form of Value 62 

1. The Expanded Relative Form of Value 62 

2. The Particular Equivalent Form 64 

3. Defects of the Total or Expanded Form of Value. ... 64 




C The Genera) Form of Value 65 

1. The Altered Character of the Form of Value 65 

2. The Interdependent Development of the Relative Form 

of Value, and of the Equivalent Form 67 

3. Transition from the General Form of Value to The Money- 
Form 69 

D The Money-Form 69 

Section 4.— The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret 

thereot 71 

CHAPTER II.— Exchange 84 

CHAPTER 111. — Money, or the Circulation of Commodities ... 94 

Section 1.— The Measure of Values 94 

Section 2. — The Medium of Circulation 103 

a. The Metamorphosis of Commodities 103 

b. The Currency of Money 114 

c. Coin and Symbols of Value 124 

Section 3. — Money 130 

a. Hoarding 130 

b. Means of Payment 134 

c. Universal Money , 142 



CHAPTER IV.— The General Formula for Capital 146 

CHAPTER P.— Contradictions in the General Formula of Capital. 156 

CHAPTER VI.— The Buying and Selling of Labour-Power 167 

part in 


CHAPTER VII.— The Labour-Process and the Process of Pro- 
ducing Surplus-Value 177 

Section 1. — The Labour-Process or the Production of Use-Values. 177 

Section 2. — The Production of Surplus-Value 186 

CHAPTER VIII. — Constant Capital and Variable Capital 199 

CHAPTER IX.— The Rate of Surplus-Value 212 

Section 1.— The Degree of Exploitation of Labour-Power 212 

Section 2.— The Representation of the Components of the Value 
of the Product by Corresponding Proportional Parts of the 

Product itsell 220 



Section 3.— Senior's "Last Hour" 224 

Section 4. — Surplus-Produce 230 

CHAPTER X — The Working-Day 231 

Section 1.— The Limits of the Working-Day 231 

Section 2. — The Greed for Surplus-Labour. Manufacturer and 

Boyard 235 

Section 3. — Branches of English Industry without Legal Limits 

to Exploitation 243 

Section 4.— Day and Night Work. The Relay System 256 

Section 5.— The Struggle lor a Normal Working-Day. Compul- 
sory Laws tor the Extension of the Working-Day from the 

Middle of the 14th to the End of the 17th Century 264 

Section 6. — The Struggle for the Normal Working-Day. Com- 
pulsory Limitation by Law of the Working-Time. The 

English Factory Acts, 1833 to 1864 278 

Section 7. — The Struggle for the Normal Working-Day. Reaction 

of the English Factory Acts on Other Countries 298 

CHAPTER XI.— Rate and Mass of Surplus-Value 303 



CHAPTER XII.— The Concept of Relative Surplus-Value 312 

CHAPTER XIII.— Co-Operation 322 

CHAPTER XIV.— Division of Labour and Manufacture 336 

Section 1 — Two-fold Origin of Manufacture 336 

Section 2.— The Detail Labourer and his Implements 339 

Section 3. — The Two Fundamental Forms of Manufacture: Het- 
erogeneous Manufacture, Serial Manufacture 342 

Section 4. — Division of Labour in Manufacture, and Division 

of Labour in Society 350 

Section 5.— The Capitalistic Character of Manufacture .... 359 

CHAPTER XV.— Machinery and Modern Industry 371 

Section 1.— The Development of Machinery 371 

Section 2.— The Value Transferred by Machinery to the 

Product 386. 



Section 3. — The Proximate Effects of Machinery on the Workman. 394 

a. Appropriation of Supplementary Labour-Power by 
Capital. The Employment of Women and Children. 394 

b. Prolongation of the Working-Day 403 

c. Intensification of Labour 409 

Section 4.— The Factory 418 

Section 5. — The Strife Between Workman and Machine 427 

Section 6.— The Theory of Compensation as Regards the Work- 
people Displaced by Machinery . . . . 438 

Section 7. — Repulsion and Attraction of Workpeople by the 

Factory System. Crises in the Cotton Trade 447 

Section 8. — Revolution Effected in Manufacture, Handicrafts, 

and Domestic Industry by Modern Industry ... . . 459 

a. Overthrow of Co-operation Based on Handicraft 

and on the Division of Labour . . . 459 

b. Reaction of the Factory System on Manufacture 

and Domestic Industries 461 

c. Modern Manufacture 462 

d. Modern Domestic Industry 466 

e. Passage of Modern Manufacture, and Domestic 
Industry into Modern Mechanical Industry. The 
Hastening of this Revolution by the Application 

of the Factory Acts to those Industries. 470 

Section 9. — The Factory Acts. Sanitary and Educational Clauses 

of the same. Their General Extension in England 480 

Section 10. — Modern Industry and Agriculture 504 



CHAPTER XVI.— Absolute and Relative Surplus-Value 508 

CHAPTER XVII— Changes of Magnitude in the Price of Labour- 
Power and in Surplus-Value. 519 

I. Length ot the Working-Day and Intensity of Labour Con- 
stant Productiveness of Labour Variable 520 

II. Working-Day Constant. Productivenes. oi Labour Con- 
stant Intensity ol Labour Variable 524 

III. Productiveness and Intensity of Labour Constant. Length 
ol the Working Day Variable 526 




IV. Simultaneous Variations in the Duration, Productiveness, and 

Intensity of Labour 527 

(1.) Diminishing Productiveness of Labour with a Simul- 
taneous Lengthening of the Working-Day 528 

(2.) Increasing Intensity and Productiveness of Labour 

with Simultaneous Shortening of the Working-Day. 530 

CHAPTER XV I II.— Various Formulas for the Rate of Surplus-Value. 531 



CHAPTER XIX.— The Transformation of the Value (and Respec- 
tively the Price) of Labour-Power into Wages 535 

CHAPTER XX.— Time-Wages 543 

CHAPTER XXI.— Piece-Wages 551 

CHAPTER XXII.— National Differences of Wages 559 



CHAPTER XXIII.— Simple Reproduction 566 

CHAPTER XXIV.— Conversion of Surplus-Value into Capital . . 579 

Section 1. — Capitalist Production on a Progressively Increas- 
ing Scale. Transition of the Laws of Property that Charac- 
terise Production of Commodities into Laws of Capitalist 
Appropriation 579 

Section 2.— Erroneous Conception, by Political Economy, of 

Reproduction on a Progressively Increasing Scale 588 

Section 3.— Separation of Surplus-Value into Capital and 

Revenue. The Abstinence Theory 591 

Section 4.— Circumstances that, Independently of the Propor- 
tional Division of Surplus-Value into Capital and Revenue, 
Determine the Amount of Accumulation. Degree of Exploi- 
tation of Labour-Power. Productivity of Labour. Growing 
Difference in Amount Between Capital Employed and Capital 
Consumed. Magnitude of Capital Advanced 599 

Section 5.— The So-Called Labour-Fund 609 

CHAPTER XXV.— The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation. 612 
Section 1.— The Increased Demand lor Labour-Power that Accom- 
panies Accumulation, the Composition of Capital Remaining 
the same 612 



Section 2. — Relative Diminution of the Variable Part of Capital 
Simultaneously with the Progress of Accumulation and of the 
Concentration that Accompanies it 621 

Section 3.— Progressive Production of a Relative Surplus-Popu- 
lation or Industrial Reserve Army. . 628 

Section 4.— Different Forms of the Relative Surplus-Population. 

The General Law of Capitalistic Accumulation 640 

Section 5.— Illustrations of the General Law of Capitalist 

Accumulation 648 

a. England from 1846-1866 648 

b. The Badly Paid Strata of the British Industrial 
Class 654 

c. The Nomad Population 663 

d. Effect of Crises on the Best Paid Part of the Work- 
ing-Class 667 

e. The British Agricultural Proletariat 673 

/. Ireland 697 



CHAPTER XXVI.— The Secret of Primitive Accumulation. 713 

CHAPTER XXVII. —Expropriation of the Agricultural Popula- 
tion from the Land. 717 

CHAPTER XXVIII.— Bloody Legislation against the Expropriat- 
ed, from the End of the 15th Century. Forcing down of Wages 
by Acts of Parliament 734 

CHAPTER XXIX.— Genesis of the Capitalist Farmer 742 

CHAPTER XXX.— Reaction of the Agricultural Revolution on In- 
dustry. Creation of the Home-Market for Industrial Capital . . 745 

CHAPTER XXXI.— Genesis of the Industrial Capitalist 750 

CHAPTER XXXII.— Historical Tendency of Capitalist Accu- 
mulation 761 

CHAPTER XXXIII.— The Modern Theory of Colonisation 765 





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Facsimile of letter written by Marx to Engels on August >6, 1867 

August 16, 1867, 2 o'clock, night 
Dear Fred, 

Have just finished correcting the last sheet (49th) of the book. The appendix— 
orm of value — takes 1 1/4 sheets in small print. 

Preface ditto sent back yesterday corrected. So this volume is finished. It was 
thanks to you alone that this became possible. Without your selt-sacrifice for me I 
could never possibly have done the enormous work for the three volumes. I embrace 
you, full of thanks! Enclosed two sheets of corrected proofs. 
The £15 received with best thanks. 

Greetings, my dear, beloved friendl 

Your K. Marx 


The publication of an English version of "Das Kapital" needs 
no apology. On the contrary, an explanation might be expected 
why this English version has been delayed until now, seeing 
that for some years past the theories advocated in this book 
have been constantly referred to, attacked and defended, inter- 
preted and misinterpreted, in the periodical press and the current 
literature of both England and America. 

When, soon after the author's death in 1883, it became evi- 
dent that an English edition of the work was really required, Mr. 
Samuel Moore, for many years a friend of Marx and of the present 
writer, and than whom, perhaps, no one is more conversant with 
the book itself, consented to undertake the translation which 
the literary executors of Marx were anxious to lay before the pub- 
lic. It was understood that I should compare the MS. with the orig- 
inal work, and suggest such alterations as I might deem advisable. 
When, by and by, it was found that Mr. Moore's professional oc- 
cupations prevented him from finishing the translation as quickly 
as we all desired, we gladly accepted Dr. Aveling's offer to under- 
take a portion of the work; at the same time Mrs. Aveling, Marx's 
youngest daughter, offered to check the quotations and to restore 
the original text of the numerous passages taken from English au- 
thors and Blue books and translated by Marx into German. This has 
been done throughout, with but a few unavoidable exceptions. 

The following portions of the book have been translated by 
Dr. Aveling: (1) Chapters X. (The Working-Day), and XI. (Rate 
and Mass of Surplus-Value); (2) Part VI. (Wages, comprising 
Chapters XIX. to XXII.); (3) from Chapter XXIV., Section 4 
(Circumstances that &c.) to the end of the book, comprising the 
latter part of Chapter XXIV., Chapter XXV., and the whole of 
Part VIII. (Chapters XXVI. to XXXIII.); (4) the two Author's 
prefaces. All the rest of the book has been done by Mr, Moore, 


While, thus, each of the translators is responsible for his share of 
the work only, I bear a joint responsibility .for the whole. 

The third German edition, which has been made the basis 
of our work throughout, was prepared by me, in 1883, with the 
assistance of notes left by the author, indicating the passages of 
the second edition to be replaced by designated passages, from the 
French text published in 1873. 1 The alterations thus effected in 
the text of the second edition generally coincided with changes 
prescribed by Marx in a set of MS. instructions for an English 
translation that was planned, about ten years ago, in America, 
but abandoned chiefly for want of a fit and proper translator. 
This MS. was placed at our disposal by our old friend Mr. F. A. 
Sorge of Hoboken N. J. It designates some further interpolations 
from the French edition; but, being so many years older than 
the final instructions for the third edition, I did not consider myself 
at liberty to make use of it otherwise than sparingly, and chiefly 
in cases where it helped us over difficulties. In the same way, 
the French text has been referred to in most of the difficult pas- 
sages, as an indicator of what the author himself was prepared to 
sacrifice wherever something of the full import of the original 
had to be sacrificed in the rendering. 

There is, however, one difficulty we could not spare the read- 
er: the use of certain terms in a sense different from what they 
have, not only in common life, but in ordinary Political Economy. 
But this was unavoidable. Every new aspect of a science involves 
a revolution in the technical terms of that science. This is best 
shown by chemistry, where the whole of the terminology is rad- 
ically changed about once in twenty years, and where you will 
hardly find a single organic compound that has not gone through 
a whole series of different names. Political Economy has generally- 
been content to take, just as they were, the terms of commercial 
and industrial life, and to operate with them, entirely failing to 
see that by so doing, it confined itself within the narrow circle of 
ideas expressed by those terms. Thus, though perfectly aware 
that both profits and rent are but sub-divisions, fragments of 
that unpaid part of the product which the labourer has to supply 
to his employer (its first appropriator, though not its ultimate 
exclusive owner), yet even classical Political Economy never went 
beyond the received notions of profits and rents, never examined 

1 "Le Capital," par Karl Marx Traduction de M J Roy, entiereroent 
revisee par l'auteur. Paris. Lacbatre." This translation, especially in the 
latter part of the book, contains considerable alterations' in and additions 
to the text of the second German edition. 


this unpaid part of the product (called by Marx surplus-product) 
in its integrity as a whole, and therefore never arrived at a clear 
comprehension, either of its origin and nature, or of the laws 
that regulate the subsequent distribution of its value. Similarly 
all industry, not agricultural or handicraft, is indiscriminately 
comprised in the term of manufacture, and thereby the distinc- 
tion is obliterated between two great and essentially different 
periods of economic history: the period of manufacture proper, 
based on the division of manual labour, and the period of modern 
industry based on machinery. It is, however, self-evident that 
a theory which views modern capitalist production as a mere 
passing stage in the economic history of mankind, must make 
use of terms different from those habitual to writers who look 
upon that form of production as imperishable and final. 

A word respecting the author's method of quoting may not 
be out of place. In the majority of cases, the quotations serve, 
in the usual way, as documentary evidence in support of asser- 
tions made in the text. But in many instances, passages from eco- 
nomic writers are quoted in order to indicate when, where and by 
whom a certain proposition was for the first time clearly enunciat- 
ed. This is done in cases where the proposition quoted is of im- 
portance as being a more or less adequate expression of the condi- 
tions of social production and exchange prevalent at the time, 
and quite irrespective of Marx's recognition, or otherwise, of its 
general validity. These quotations, therefore, supplement the text 
by a running commentary taken from the history of the science. 

Our translation comprises the first book of the work only. 
But this first book is in a great measure a whole in itself, and 
has for twenty years ranked as an independent work. The second 
book, edited in German by me, in 1885, is decidedly incomplete 
without the third, which cannot be published before the end 
of 1887. When Book III. has been brought out in the original 
German, it will then be soon enough to think about preparing 
an English edition of both. 

"Das Kapital" is often called, on the Continent, "the Bible 
of the working-class." That the conclusions arrived at in this work 
are daily more and more becoming the fundamental principles 
of the great working-class movement, not only in Germany and 
Switzerland, but in France, in Holland and Belgium, in America, 
and even in Italy and Spain, that everywhere the working-class 
more and more recognises, in these conclusions, the most adequate 
expression of its condition and of its aspirations, nobody acquain- 
ted with that movement will deny. And in England, too, 


the theories of Marx, even at this moment, exercise a power- 
ful influence upon the socialist movement which is spreading in 
the ranks of "cultured " people no less than in those of the 
working-class. But that is not all The time is rapidly approach- 
ing when a thorough examination of England's economic posi- 
tion will impose itself as an irresistible national necessity. The 
working of the industrial system of this country, impossible 
without a constant and rapid extension of production, and there- 
fore of markets, is coming to a dead stop. Free-trade has ex- 
hausted its resources; even Manchester doubts this its quondam 
economic gospel. 1 Foreign industry, rapidly developing, stares 
English production in the face everywhere, not only in protected, 
but also in neutral markets, and even on this side of the Channel. 
While the productive power increases in a geometric, the exten- 
sion of markets proceeds at best in an arithmetic ratio. The de- 
cennial cycle of stagnation, prosperity, over-production and 
crisis, ever recurrent from 1825 to 1867, seems indeed to have 
run its course; but only to land us in the slough of despond of 
a permanent and chronic depression. The sighed-for period of 
prosperity will not come; as often as we seem to perceive its her- 
alding symptoms, so often do they again vanish into air. Mean- 
while, each succeeding winter brings up afresh the great question, 
"what to do with the unemployed "; but while the number of the 
unemployed keeps swelling from year to year, there is nobody 
to answer that question; and we can almost calculate the moment 
when the unemployed losing patience will take their own fate 
into their own hands. Surely, at such a moment, the voice ought 
to be heard of a man whose whole theory is the result of a life- 
long study of the economic history and condition of England, 
and whom that study led to the conclusion that, at least in 
Europe, England is the only country where the inevitable social 
revolution might be effected entirely by peaceful and legal 
means. He certainly never forgot to add that he hardly expected 
the English ruling classes to submit, without a "pro-slavery 
rebellion," to this peaceful and legal revolution. 

Frederick Engels 

November 5, 1886 

1 At the quarterly meeting of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, 
held this afternoon, a warm discussion took place on the subject of Free- 
trade. A resolution was moved to the effect that "having waited in vain 
40 years for other nations to follow the Free-trade example of England, 
this Chamber thinks the time has now arrived to reconsider that position." 
The resolution was rejected by a majority of one only, the figures being 
21 for, and 22 against.— Evening Standard, Nov, 1, 1886. 



The work, the first volume of which I now submit to the public, 
forms the continuation of my "Zur Kritik der Politischen Oekono- 
mie " (A Contribution to the Criticism of Political Economy) 
published in 1859. The long pause between the first part and the 
continuation is due to an illness of many years' duration that 
again and again interrupted my work. 

The substance of that earlier work is summarised in the first 
three chapters of this volume. This is done not merely for the 
sake of connexion and completeness. The presentation of the 
subject-matter is improved. As far as circumstances in any way 
permit, many points only hinted at in the earlier book are here 
worked out more fully, whilst, conversely, points worked out 
fully there are only touched upon in this volume. The sections 
on the history of the theories of value and of money are now, of 
course, left out altogether. The reader of the earlier work will 
find, however, in the notes to the first chapter additional sources 
of reference relative to the history of those theories. 

Every beginning is difficult, holds in all sciences. To under- 
stand the first chapter, especially the section that contains the 
analysis of commodities, will, therefore, present the greatest 
difficulty. That which concerns more especially the analysis 
of the substance of value and the magnitude of value, I have, as 
much as it was possible, popularised. 1 The value-form, whose 

1 This is the more necessary, as even the section of Ferdinand Lassalle's 
work against Schulze-Delitzsch, in which he professes to give "the intel- 
lectual quintessence" of my explanations on these subjects, contains im- 
portant mistakes, If Ferdinand Lassalle has borrowed almost literally from my 


fully developed shape is the money-form, is very elementary 
and simple. Nevertheless, the human mind has for more than 
2,000 years sought in vain to get to the bottom of it, whilst on 
the other hand, to the successful analysis of much more composite 
and complex forms, there has been at least an approximation. 
Why? Because the body, as an organic whole, is more easy of 
study than are the cells of that body. In the analysis of economic 
forms, moreover, neither microscopes nor chemical reagents are 
of use. The force of abstraction must replace both. But in bour- 
geois society the commodity-form of the product of labour— or 
the value-form of the commodity — is the economic cell-form. 
To the superficial observer, the analysis of these forms seems to 
turn upon minutiae. It does in fact deal with minutiae, but they 
are of the same order as those dealt with in microscopic anatomy. 

With the exception of the section on value-form, therefore, 
this volume cannot stand accused on the score of difficulty. I 
pre-suppose, of course, a reader who is willing to learn something 
new and therefore to think for himself. 

The physicist either observes physical phenomena where they 
occur in their most typical form and most free from disturbing 
influence, or, wherever possible, he makes experiments under 
conditions that assure the occurrence of the phenomenon in its 
normality. In this work I have to examine the capitalist mode 
of production, and the conditions of production and exchange 
corresponding to that mode. Up to the present time, their classic 
ground is England. That is the reason why England is used as 
the chief illustration in the development of my theoretical ideas. 
If, however, the German reader shrugs his shoulders at the con- 
dition of the English industrial and agricultural labourers, or in 
optimist fashion comforts himself with the thought that in Ger- 
many things are not nearly so bad; I must plainly tell him, "De 
te fabula narratur! " 

Intrinsically, it is not a question of the higher or lower degree 
of development of the social antagonisms that result from the 
natural laws of capitalist production. It is a question of these 
laws themselves, of these tendencies working with iron neces- 
sity towards inevitable results. The country that is more 

writings, and without any acknowledgement, all the general theoreti- 
cal propositions in his economic works, e.g., those on the historical charac- 
ter of capital, on the connexion between the conditions of production and 
the mode of production, &c, &c. , even to the terminology created by me, 
this may perhaps be due to purposes of propaganda. I am here, of course, 
not speaking of his detailed working out and application of these proposi- 
tions, with which I have nothing to do. 


developed industrially only shows, to the less developed, the 
image of its own future. 

But apart from this. Where capitalist production is fully 
naturalised among the Germans (for instance, in the factories 
proper) the condition of things is much worse than in England, 
because the counterpoise of the Factory Acts is wanting. In all 
other spheres, we, like all the rest of Continental Western Europe, 
suffer not only from the development of capitalist production, but 
also from the incompleteness of that development. Alongside of 
modern evils, a whole series of inherited evils oppress us, arising 
from the passive survival of antiquated modes of production, 
with their inevitable train of social and political anachronisms. 
We suffer not only from the living, but from the dead. Le mort 
saisit le viff 

The social statistics of Germany and the rest of Continental 
Western Europe are, in comparison with those of England, 
wretchedly compiled. But they raise the veil just enough to let us 
catch a glimpse of the Medusa head behind it. We should be ap- 
palled at the state of things at home, if, as in England, our gov- 
ernments and parliaments appointed periodically commissions of 
inquiry into economic conditions; if these commissions were 
armed with the same plenary powers to get at the truth; if it was 
possible to find for this purpose men as competent, as free 
from partisanship and respect of persons as are the English fac- 
tory-inspectors, her medical reporters on public health, her com- 
missioners of inquiry into the exploitation of women and children, 
into housing and food. Perseus wore a magic cap that the monsters 
he hunted down might not see him. We draw the magic cap down 
over eyes and ears as a make-believe that there are no monsters. 
Let us not deceive ourselves on this. As in the 18th century, 
the American war of independence sounded the tocsin for the Euro- 
pean middle-class, so in the 19th century, the American Civil 
War sounded it for the European working-class. In England the 
progress of social disintegration is palpable. When it has reached 
a certain point, it must re-act on the Continent. There it will take 
a form more brutal or more humane, according to the degree of 
development of the working-class itself. Apart from higher mo- 
tives, therefore, their own most important interests dictate to the 
classes that are for the nonce the ruling ones, the removal of all 
legally removable hindrances to the free development of the 
working-class. For this reason, as well as others, I have given so 
large a space in this volume to the history, the details, and the 
results of English factory legislation. One nation can and should 


learn from others. And even when a society has got upon the right 
track for the discovery of the natural laws of its movement — and 
it is the ultimate aim of this work, to lay bare the economic law 
of motion of modern society— it can neither clear by bold leaps, 
nor remove by legal enactments, the obstacles offered by the suc- 
cessive phases of its normal development. But it can shorten and 
lessen the birth-pangs. 

To prevent possible misunderstanding, a word. I paint the 
capitalist and the landlord in no sense couleur de rose. But here 
individuals are dealt with only in so far as they are the per- 
sonifications of economic categories, embodiments of particular 
class-relations and class-interests. My standpoint, from which the 
evolution of the economic formation of society is viewed as a proc- 
ess of natural history, can less than any other make the individ- 
ual responsible for relations whose creature he socially remains, 
however much he may subjectively raise himself above them. 

In the domain of Political Economy, free scientific inquiry 
meets not merely the same enemies as in all other domains. The 
peculiar nature of the material it deals with, summons as foes into 
the field of battle the most violent, mean and malignant passions 
of the human breast, the Furies of private interest. The English 
Established Church, e.g., will more readily pardon an attack on 

38 of its 39 articles than on -^ of its income. Now-a-days atheism 

itself is culpa levis, as compared with criticism of existing property 
relations. Nevertheless, there is an unmistakable advance. I refer, 
e.g., to the Blue book published within the last few weeks: "Corre- 
spondence with Her Majesty's Missions Abroad, regarding Indus- 
trial Questions and Trades' Unions." The representatives of the 
English Crown in foreign countries there declare in so many words 
that in Germany, in France, to be brief, in all the civilised states 
of the European Continent, a radical change in the existing rela- 
tions between capital and labour is as evident and inevitable as in 
England. At the same time, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, 
Mr. Wade, vice-president of the United States, declared in public 
meetings that, after the abolition of slavery, a radical change of 
the relations of capital and of property in land is next upon the 
order of the day. These are signs of the times, not to be hidden by 
purple mantles or black cassocks. They do not signify that to- 
morrow a miracle will happen. They show that, within the ruling- 
classes themselves, a foreboding is dawning, that the present 
society is no solid crystal, but an organism capable of change, 
and is constantly changing. 


The second volume of this work will treat of the process of 
the circulation of capital 1 (Book II.), and of the varied forms 
assumed by capital in the course of its development (Book III.), 
the third and last volume (Book IV.), the history of the theory. 

Every opinion based on scientific criticism I welcome. As to 
the prejudices of so-called public opinion, to which I have never 
made concessions, now as aforetime the maxim of the great 
Florentine is mine: 

"Segui il tuo corso, e lascia dir le genti," 

Karl Marx 
London, July 25, 1867 

1 On p. 564 the author explains what he comprises under this head, 



I must start by informing the readers of the first edition 
about the alterations made in the second edition. One is struck 
at once by the clearer arrangement of the book. Additional notes 
are everywhere marked as notes to the second edition. The fol- 
lowing are the most important points with regard to the text 

In Chapter I, Section 1, the derivation of value from an 
analysis of the equations by which every exchange-value is ex- 
pressed has been carried out with greater scientific strictness; 
likewise the connexion between the substance of value and the 
determination of the magnitude of value by socially necessary 
labour-time, which was only alluded to in the first edition, is 
now expressly emphasised. Chapter I, Section 3 (the Form of 
Value), has been completely revised, a task which was made 
necessary by the double exposition in the first edition, if nothing 
else. — Let me remark, in passing, that that double exposition 
had been occasioned by my friend, Dr. L Kugelmann in Hanover. 
I was visiting him in the spring of 1867 when the first proof- 
sheets arrived from Hamburg, and he convinced me that most 
readers needed a supplementary, more didactic explanation of 
the form of value. — The last section of the first chapter, "The 
Fetishism of Commodities, etc.," has largely been altered. Chapter 
III, Section 1 (The Measure of Value), has been carefully revised, 
because in the first edition this section had been treated negli- 
gently, the reader having been referred to the explanation already 
given in "Zur Kritik der Politischen Oekonomie," Berlin 1859. 
Chapter VII, particularly Part 2 [Eng. ed., Chapter IX, Sec- 
tion 2], has been re-written to a great extent. 

It would be a waste of time to go into all the partial textual 
changes, which were often purely stylistic. They occur throughout 


the book. Nevertheless I find now, on revising the French trans- 
lation appearing in Paris, that several parts of the German 
original stand in need of rather thorough remoulding, other parts 
require rather heavy stylistic editing, and still others painstaking 
elimination of occasional slips. But there was no time for that. 
^For I had been informed only in the autumn of 1871, when in the 
'midst of other urgent work, that the book was sold out and that the 
printing of the second edition was to begin in January of 1872. 

The appreciation which "Das Kapital" rapidly gained in wide 
circles of the German working-class is the best reward of my 
labours. Herr Mayer, a Vienna manufacturer, who in economic 
matters represents the bourgeois point of view, in a pamphlet 
published during the Franco-German War aptly expounded the 
idea that the great capacity for theory, which used to be consid- 
ered a hereditary German possession, had almost completely 
disappeared amongst the so-called educated classes in Germany, 
but that amongst its working-class, on the contrary, that capacity 
was celebrating its revival. 

To the present moment Political Economy, in Germany, 
is a foreign science. Gustav von Giilich in his "Historical description 
of Commerce, Industry," &C., 1 especially in the two first volumes 
published in 1830, has examined at length the historical circum- 
stances that prevented, in Germany, the development of the capi- 
talist mode of production, and consequently the development, 
in that country, of modern bourgeois society. Thus the soil whence 
Political Economy springs was wanting. This "science" had to be 
imported from England and France as a ready-made article; its 
German professors remained schoolboys. The theoretical expression 
of a foreign reality was turned, in their hands, into a collection of 
dogmas, interpreted by them in terms of the petty trading world 
around them, and therefore misinterpreted. The feeling of scientific 
impotence, a feeling not wholly to be repressed, and the uneasy 
consciousness of having to touch a subject in reality foreign to 
them, was but imperfectly concealed, either under a parade of lit- 
erary and historical erudition, or by an admixture of extraneous 
material, borrowed from the so-called "Kameral" sciences, a medley 
of smatterings, through whose purgatory the hopeless candidate 
for the German bureaucracy has to pass. 

Since 1848 capitalist production has developed rapidly in 
Germany, and at the present time it is in the full bloom of 

1 Geschichtliche Darstellung des Handels, der Gewerbe und des Acker- 
baus, &c, von Gustav von Giilich. 5 vols., Jena. 1830-45. 


speculation and swindling. But fate is still unpropitious to our 
professional economists. At the time when they were able to deal 
with Political Economy in a straightforward fashion, modern 
economic conditions did not actually exist in Germany. And as 
soon as these conditions did come into existence, they did so un- 
der circumstances that no longer allowed of their being really 
and impartially investigated within the bounds of the bourgeois 
horizon. In so far as Political Economy remains within that 
horizon, in so far, i.e., as the capitalist regime is looked upon 
as the absolutely final form of social production, instead of as a 
passing historical phase of its evolution, Political Economy can 
remain a science only so long as the class-struggle is latent or 
manifests itself only in isolated and sporadic phenomena. 

Let us take England. Its Political Economy belongs to the 
period in which the class-struggle was as yet undeveloped. Its 
last great representative, Ricardo, in the end, consciously makes 
the antagonism of class-interests, of wages and profits, of profits 
and rent, the starting-point of his investigations, naively taking 
this antagonism for a social law of Nature. But by this start the 
science of bourgeois economy had reached the limits beyond 
which it could not pass. Already in the lifetime of Ricardo, and 
in opposition to him, it was met by criticism, in the person of 
Sismondi. x 

The succeeding period, from 1820 to 1830, was notable in 
England for scientific activity in the domain of Political Economy. 
It was the time as well of the vulgarising and extending of Ricar- 
do 's theory, as of the contest of that theory with the old school. 
Splendid tournaments were held. What was done then, is little 
known to the Continent generally, because the polemic is for the 
most part scattered through articles in reviews, occasional litera- 
ture and pamphlets. The unprejudiced character of this polemic — 
although the theory of Ricardo already serves, in exceptional 
cases, as a weapon of attack upon bourgeois economy — is ex- 
plained by the circumstances of the time. On the one hand, mod- 
ern industry itself was only just emerging from the age of child- 
hood, as is shown by the fact that with the crisis of 1825 it for the 
first time opens the periodic cycle of its modern life. On the other 
hand, the class-struggle between capital and labour is forced into 
the background, politically by the discord between the govern- 
ments and the feudal aristocracy gathered around the Holy Alliance 
on the one hand, and the popular masses, led by the bourgeoisie 

1 See my work "Zur Kritik, &c," p. 39. 


on the other; economically by the quarrel between industrial 
capital and aristocratic landed property— a quarrel that in France 
was concealed by the opposition between small and large landed 
property, and that in England broke out openly after the Corn 
Laws. The literature of Political Economy in England at this 
time calls to mind the stormy forward movement in France after 
Dr. Quesnay's death, but only as a Saint Martin's summer 
reminds us of spring. With the year 1830 came the decisive 

In France and in England the bourgeoisie had conquered 
political power. Thenceforth, the class-struggle, practically as 
well as theoretically, took on more and more outspoken and threat- 
ening forms. It sounded the knell of scientific bourgeois econ- 
omy. It was thenceforth no longer a question, whether this the- 
orem or that was true, but whether it was useful to capital or 
harmful, expedient or inexpedient, politically dangerous or not. In 
place of disinterested inquirers, there were hired prize-fighters; in 
place of genuine scientific research, the bad conscience and the evil 
intent of apologetic. Still, even the obtrusive pamphlets with 
which the Anti-Corn Law League, led by the manufacturers 
Cobden and Bright, deluged the world, have a historic interest, 
if no scientific one, on account of their polemic against the 
landed aristocracy. But since then the Free-trade legislation, 
inaugurated by Sir Robert Peel, has deprived vulgar economy 
of this its last sting. 

The Continental revolution of 1848-9 also had its reaction in 
England. Men who still claimed some scientific standing and as- 
pired to be something more than mere sophists and sycophants of 
the ruling-classes, tried to harmonise the Political Economy of 
capital with the claims, no longer to be ignored, of the proletariat. 
Hence a shallow syncretism, of which John Stuart Mill is the best 
representative. It is a declaration of bankruptcy by bourgeois 
economy, an event on which the great Russian scholar and critic, 
N. Tschernyschewsky, has thrown the light of a master mind in 
his "Outlines of Political Economy according to Mill." 

In Germany, therefore, the capitalist mode of production 
came to a head, after its antagonistic character had already, in 
France and England, shown itself in a fierce strife of classes. 
And meanwhile, moreover, the German proletariat had attained 
a much more clear class-consciousness than the German bourgeoi- 
sie. Thus, at the very moment when a bourgeois science of Political 
Economy seemed at last possible in Germany, it had in reality 
again become impossible. 


Under these circumstances its professors fell into two groups. 
The one set, prudent, practical business folk, flocked to the ban- 
ner of Bastiat, the most superficial and therefore the most ade- 
quate representative of the apologetic of vulgar economy; the 
other, proud of the professorial dignity of their science, followed 
John Stuart Mill in his attempt to reconcile irreconcilables. 
Just as in the classical time of bourgeois economy, so also in the 
time of its decline, the Germans remained mere schoolboys, 
imitators and followers, petty retailers and hawkers in the serv- 
ice of the great foreign wholesale concern. 

The peculiar historical development of German society there- 
fore forbids, in that country, all original work in bourgeois 
economy; but not the criticism of that economy. So far as such 
criticism represents a class, it can only represent the class whose 
vocation in history is the overthrow of the capitalist mode of 
production and the final abolition of all classes — the proletariat. 

The learned and unlearned spokesmen of the German bour- 
geoisie tried at first to kill "Das Kapital" by silence, as they had 
managed to do with my earlier writings. As soon as they found 
that these tactics no longer fitted in with the conditions of the time, 
they wrote, under pretence of criticising my book, prescriptions 
"for the tranquillisation of the bourgeois mind." But they found 
in the workers' press — see, e.g., Joseph Dietzgen's articles in 
the Volksstaat — antagonists stronger than themselves, to whom 
(down to this very day) they owe a reply. x 

An excellent Russian translation of "Das Kapital" appeared 
in the spring of 1872. The edition of 3,000 copies is already nearly 
exhausted. As early as 1871, N. Sieber, Professor of Political 
Economy in the University of Kiev, in his work "David Ricardo's 
Theory of Value and of Capital," referred to my theory of value, of 

1 The mealy-mouthed babblers of German vulgar economy fell foul 
of the style of my book. No one can feel the literary shortcomings in "Das 
Kapital" more strongly than I myself. Yet I will for the benefit and the 
enjoyment of these gentlemen and their public quote in this connexion one 
English and one Russian notice. The Saturday Review, always hostile to 
my views, said in its notice of the first edition: "The presentation of the 
subject invests the driest economic questions with a certain peculiar charm." 
The "St. Petersburg Journal" (Sankt-Peterburgskie Viedomosti), in its issue 
of April 20, 1872, says: "The presentation of the subject, with the exception 
of one or two exceptionally special parts, is distinguished by its compre- 
hensibility by the general reader, its clearness, and, in spite of the scientific 
intricacy of the subject, by an unusual liveliness. In this respect the author 
in no way resembles ... the majority of German scholars who ... write their 
books in a language so dry and obscure that the heads of ordinary mortals 
are cracked by it." 


money and of capital, as in its fundamentals a necessary sequel to 
the teaching of Smith and Ricardo. That which astonishes the 
Western European in the reading of this excellent work, is the 
author's consistent and firm grasp of the purely theoretical posi- 

That the method employed in "Das Kapital" has been little 
understood, is shown by the various conceptions, contradictory 
one to another, that have been formed of it. 

Thus the Paris Revue Positiviste reproaches me in that, on the 
one hand, I treat economics metaphysically, and on the other 
hand— imagine!— confine myself to the mere critical analysis of 
actual facts, instead of writing receipts (Gomtist ones?) for the 
cook-shops of the future. In answer to the reproach in re meta- 
physics, Professor Sieber has it: "In so far as it deals with actual 
theory, the method of Marx is the deductive method of the whole 
English school, a school whose failings and virtues are common 
to the best theoretic economists." M. Block — "Les Theoriciens du 
Socialisme en Allemagne. Extrait du Journal des Economistes, 
Juillet et Aout 1872" — makes the discovery that my method is 
analytic and says: "Par cet ouvrage M. Marx se classe parmi les 
esprits analytiques les plus eminents." German reviews, of course, 
shriek out at "Hegelian sophistics." The European Messenger of 
St. Petersburg in an article dealing exclusively with the method 
of "Das Kapital" (May number, 1872, pp. 427-436), finds my 
method of inquiry severely realistic, but my method of presenta- 
tion, unfortunately, German-dialectical. It says: "At first sight, if 
the judgment is based on the external form of the presentation of 
the subject, Marx is the most ideal of ideal philosophers, always 
in the German, i.e., the bad sense of the word. But in point of 
fact he is infinitely more realistic than all his fore-runners in the 
work of economic criticism. He can in no sense be called an 
idealist." I cannot answer the writer better than by aid of a few 
extracts from his own criticism, which may interest some of my 
readers to whom the Russian original is inaccessible. 

After a quotation from the preface to my "Criticism of Politi- 
cal Economy," Berlin, 1859, pp. IV-VII, where I discuss the mate- 
rialistic basis of my method, the writer goes on: "The one thing 
which is of moment to Marx, is to find the law of the phenomena 
with whose investigation he is concerned; and not only is that 
law of moment to him, which governs these phenomena, in so 
far as they have a definite form and mutual connexion within a 
given historical period. Of still greater moment to him is the law 
of their variation, of their development, i.e., of their transition 


from one form into another, from one series of connexions into 
a different one. This law once discovered, he investigates in 
detail the effects in which it manifests itself in social life. 
Consequently, Marx only troubles himself about one thing: to 
show, by rigid scientific investigation, the necessity of successive 
determinate orders of social conditions, and to establish, as 
impartially as possible, the facts that serve him for fundamental 
starting-points. For this it is quite enough, if he proves, at the same 
time, both the necessity of the present order of things, and the 
necessity of another order into which the first must inevitably pass 
over; and this all the same, whether men believe or do not believe 
it, whether they are conscious or unconscious of it. Marx treats the 
social movement as a process of natural history, governed by laws 
not only independent of human will, consciousness and intelli- 
gence, but rather, on the contrary, determining that will, con- 
sciousness and intelligence.... If in the history of civilisation 
the conscious element plays a part so subordinate, then it is 
self-evident that a critical inquiry whose subject-matter is civ- 
ilisation, can, less than anything else, have for its basis any form 
of, or any result of, consciousness. That is to say, that not the 
idea, but the material phenomenon alone can serve as its starting- 
point. Such an inquiry will confine itself to the confrontation and 
the comparison of a fact, not with ideas, but with another fact. 
For this inquiry, the one thing of moment is, that both facts be 
investigated as accurately as possible, and that they actually 
form, each with respect to the other, different momenta of an 
evolution; but most important of all is the rigid analysis of the 
series of successions, of the sequences and concatenations in which 
the different stages of such an evolution present themselves. But 
it will be said, the general laws of economic life are one and the 
same, no matter whether they are applied to the present or the 
past. This Marx directly denies. According to him, such abstract 
laws do not exist. On the contrary, in his opinion every histori- 
cal period has laws of its own.... As soon as society has out- 
lived a given period of development, and is passing over from one 
given stage to another, it begins to be subject also to other laws. 
In a word, economic life offers us a phenomenon analogous to the 
history of evolution in other branches of biology. The old econo- 
mists misunderstood the nature of economic laws when they lik- 
ened them to the laws of physics and chemistry. A more thorough 
analysis of phenomena shows that social organisms differ among 
themselves as fundamentally as plants or animals. Nay, one and 
the same phenomenon falls under quite different laws in conse- 


quence of the different structure of those organisms as a whole, of 
the variations of their individual organs, of the different conditions 
in which those organs function, &c. Marx, e.g., denies that the 
law of population is the same at all times and in all places. He 
asserts, on the contrary, that every stage of development has its 
own law of population.... With the varying degree of develop- 
ment of productive power, social conditions and the laws govern- 
ing them vary too. Whilst Marx sets himself the task of following 
and explaining from this point of view the economic system estab- 
lished by the sway of capital, he is only formulating, in a strictly 
scientific manner, the aim that every accurate investigation into 
economic life must have. The scientific value of such an inquiry 
lies in the disclosing of the special laws that regulate the origin, 
existence, development, death of a given social organism and its 
replacement by another and higher one. And it is this value that, 
in point of fact, Marx's book has." 

Whilst the writer pictures what he takes to be actually my 
method, in this striking and [as far as concerns my own applica- 
tion of it] generous way, what else is he picturing but the dialec- 
tic method? 

Of course the method of presentation must differ in form from 
that of inquiry. The latter has to appropriate the material in 
detail, to analyse its different forms of development, to trace 
out their inner connexion. Only after this work is done, can the 
actual movement be adequately described. If this is done suc- 
cessfully, if the life of the subject-matter is ideally reflected as in 
a mirror, then it may appear as if we had before us a mere a 
priori construction. 

My dialectic method is not only different from the Hegelian, 
but is its direct opposite. To Hegel, the life-process of the human 
brain, i.e., the process of thinking, which, under the name of 
"the Idea," he even transforms into an independent subject, 
is the demiurgos of the real world, and the real world is 
only the external, phenomenal form of "the Idea." With me, 
on the contrary, the ideal is nothing else than the material world 
reflected by the human mind, and translated into forms of thought. 

The mystifying side of Hegelian dialectic I criticised nearly 
thirty years ago, at a time when it was still the fashion. But 
just as I was working at the first volume of "Das Kapital," it 
was the good pleasure of the peevish, arrogant, mediocre 'Emyovo'. 
who now talk large in cultured Germany, to treat Hegel in same 
way as the brave Moses Mendelssohn in Lessing's time treated 
Spinoza, i.e., as a "dead dog." I therefore openly avowed myself 


the pupil of that mighty thinker, and even here and there, in the 
chapter on the theory of value, coquetted with the modes of ex- 
pression peculiar to him. The mystification which dialectic suffers 
in Hegel's hands, by no means prevents him from being the first 
to present its general form of working in a comprehensive and con- 
scious manner. With him it is standing on its head. It must be 
turned right side up again, if you would discover the rational 
kernel within the mystical shell. 

In its mystified form, dialectic became the fashion in Germany, 
because it seemed to transfigure and to glorify the existing state 
of things. In its rational form it is a scandal and abomination to 
bourgeoisdom and its doctrinaire professors, because it includes 
in its comprehension and affirmative recognition of the existing 
state of things, at the same time also, the recognition of the nega- 
tion of that state, of its inevitable breaking up; because it regards 
every historically developed social form as in fluid movement, 
and therefore takes into account its transient nature not less than 
its momentary existence; because it lets nothing impose upon it, 
and is in its essence critical and revolutionary. 

The contradictions inherent in the movement of capitalist 
society impress themselves upon the practical bourgeois most 
strikingly in the changes of the periodic cycle, through which 
modern industry runs, and whose crowning point is the univer- 
sal crisis. That crisis is once again approaching, although as 
yet but in its preliminary stage; and by the universality of its 
theatre and the intensity of its action it will drum dialectics 
even into the heads of the mushroom-upstarts of the new, holy 
Prusso-German empire. 

Karl Marx 

London, January 24, 1873 



To the citizen Maurice Lachatre 
Dear Citizen, 

I applaud your idea of publishing the translation of "Das 
Kapital" as a serial. In this form the book will be more accessible 
to the working-class, a consideration which to me outweighs 
everything else. 

That is the good side of your suggestion, but here is the reverse 
of the medal: the method of analysis which I have employed, and 
which had not previously been applied to economic subjects, 
makes the reading of the first chapters rather arduous, and it is 
to be feared that the French public, always impatient to come to 
a conclusion, eager to know the connexion between general 
principles and the immediate questions that have aroused their 
passions, may be disheartened because they will be unable to 
move on at once. 

That is a disadvantage I am powerless to overcome, unless 
it be by forewarning and forearming those readers who zealously 
seek the truth. There is no royal road to science, and only those 
who do not dread the fatiguing climb of its steep paths have a 
chance of gaining its luminous summits. 

Believe me, 

dear citizen 

Your devoted, 

Karl Marx 

London, March 18, 1872 



Mr. J. Roy set himself the task of producing a version that 
would be as exact and even literal as possible, and has scrupu- 
lously fulfilled it. But his very scrupulosity has compelled me to 
modify his text, with a view to rendering it more intelligible to 
the reader. These alterations, introduced from day to day, as the 
book was published in parts, were not made with equal care and 
were bound to result in a lack of harmony in style. 

Having once undertaken this work of revision, I was led to 
apply it also to the basic original text (the second German edi- 
tion), to simplify some arguments, to complete others, to give 
additional historical or statistical material, to add critical sugges- 
tions, etc. Hence, whatever the literary defects of this French 
edition may be, it possesses a scientific value independent of the 
original and should be consulted even by readers familiar with 

Below I give the passages in the Afterword to the second Ger- 
man edition which treat of the development of Political Economy 
in Germany and the method employed in the present work. 

Karl Marx 

London, April 28, 1875 



Marx was not destined to get this, the third, edition ready 
for press himself. The powerful thinker, to whose greatness even 
his opponents now make obeisance, died on March 14, 1883. 

Upon me who in Marx lost the best, the truest friend I had— 
and had for forty years — the friend to whom I am more indebted 
than can be expressed in words — upon me now devolved the duty 
of attending to the publication of this third edition, as well as of 
the second volume, which Marx had left behind in manuscript. 
I must now account here to the reader for the way in which I 
discharged the first part of my duty. 

It was Marx's original intention to re-write a great part of the 
text of Volume I, to formulate many theoretical points more exact- 
ly, insert new ones and bring historical and statistical materials 
up to date. But his ailing condition and the urgent need to do the 
final editing of Volume II induced him to give up this scheme. Only 
the most necessary alterations were to be made, only the insertions 
which the French edition ("Le Capital." Par Karl Marx. Paris, 
Lachatre 1873) already contained, were to be put in. 

Among the books left by Marx there was a German copy 
which he himself had corrected here and there and provided with 
references to the French edition; also a French copy in which he 
had indicated the exact passages to be used. These alterations 
and additions are confined, with few exceptions, to the last 
[Engl, ed.: second last] part of the book: "The Accumulation of 
Capital." Here the previous text followed the original draft more 
closely than elsewhere, while the preceding sections had been gone 
over more thoroughly. The style was therefore more vivacious, 
more of a single cast, but also more careless, studded with Angli- 
cisms and in parts unclear; there were gaps here and there in the 


presentation of arguments, some important particulars being- 
merely alluded to. 

With regard to the style, Marx had himself thoroughly re- 
vised several sub-sections and thereby had indicated to me here, 
as well as in numerous oral suggestions, the length to which I 
could go in eliminating English technical terms and other Angli- 
cisms. Marx would in any event have gone over the additions and 
supplemental texts and have replaced the smooth French with 
his own terse German; I had to be satisfied, when transferring them, 
with bringing them into maximum harmony with the original 

Thus not a single word was changed in this third edition with- 
out my firm conviction that the author would have altered it 
himself. It would never occur to me to introduce into "Das Kapital" 
the current jargon in which German economists are wont to ex- 
press themselves— that gibberish in which, for instance, one who 
for cash has others give him their labour is called a labour- giver 
(ArbQitgeber) and one whose labour is taken away from him for 
wages is called a labour-ta/cer (Arbeitnehmer) . In French, too, the 
word "travail" is used in every-day life in the sense of "occupation." 
But the French would rightly consider any economist crazy 
should he call the capitalist a donneur de travail (a labour-giver) 
or the worker a receveur de travail (a labour-taker). 

Nor have I taken the liberty to convert the English coins and 
moneys, measures and weights used throughout the text to their 
new-German equivalents. When the first edition appeared there 
were as many kinds of measures and weights in Germany as there 
are days in the year? Besides there were two kinds of marks (the 
Reichsmark existed at the time only in the imagination of Soet- 
beer, who had invented it in the late thirties), two kinds of gulden 
and at least three kinds of taler, including one called neues Zwei- 
drittel. In the natural sciences the metric system prevailed, in 
the world market — English measures and weights. Under such 
circumstances English units of measure were quite natural for 
a book which had to take its factual proofs almost exclusively 
from British industrial relations. The last-named reason is de- 
cisive even to-day, especially because the corresponding relations 
in the world market have hardly changed and English weights and 
measures almost completely control precisely the key industries, 
iron and cotton. 

In conclusion a few words on Marx's art of quotation, which 
is so little understood. When they are pure statements of fact or 
descriptions, the quotations, from the English Blue books, for 


example, serve of course as simple documentary proof. But this 
is not so when the theoretical views of other economists are cited. 
Here the quotation is intended merely to state where, when and 
by whom an economic idea conceived in the course of develop- 
ment was first clearly enunciated. Here the only consideration is 
that the economic conception in question must be of some signifi- 
cance to the history of science, that it is the more or less adequate 
theoretical expression of the economic situation of its time. But 
whether this conception still possesses any absolute or relative 
validity from the standpoint of the author or whether it already 
has become wholly past history is quite immaterial. Hence these 
quotations are only a running commentary to the text, a commen- 
tary borrowed from the history of economic science, and establish 
the dates and originators of certain of the more important ad- 
vances in economic theory. And that was a very necessary thing in 
a science whose historians have so far distinguished themselves 
only by tendentious ignorance characteristic of careerists. It will 
now be understandable why Marx, in consonance with the 
Afterword to the second edition, only in very exceptional cases had 
occasion to quote German economists. 

There is hope that the second volume will appear in the 
course of 1884. 

Frederick Engels 

London, November 7, 1883 



The fourth edition required that I should establish in final 
form, as nearly as possible, both text and footnotes. The fol- 
lowing brief explanation will show how I have fulfilled this task. 

After again comparing the French edition and Marx's manu- 
script remarks I have made some further additions to the German 
text from that translation. They will be found on p. 80 (3rd edition, 
p. 88) [present edition, pp. 116-17], pp. 458-60 (3rd edition, pp. 
509-10) [present edition, pp. 492-95],* pp. 547-51 (3rd edition, 
p. 600) [present edition, pp. 584-87], pp. 591-93 (3rd edi- 
tion, p. 644) [present edition, pp. 626-28] and p. 596 (3rd 
edition, p. 648) [present edition, p. 631] in Note 1. I have also 
followed the example of the French and English editions by put- 
ting the long footnote on the miners into the text (3rd edition, pp. 
509-15; 4th edition, pp. 461-67) [present edition, pp. 495- 
502]. Other small alterations are of a purely technical nature. 

Further, I have added a few more explanatory notes, espe- 
cially where changed historical conditions seemed to demand 
this. All these additional notes are enclosed in square brackets 
and marked either with my initials or "D. H."** 

Meanwhile a complete revision of the numerous quotations 
had been made necessary by the publication of the English edi- 
tion. For this edition Marx's youngest daughter, Eleanor, under- 
took to compare all the quotations with their originals, so that 
those taken from English sources, which constitute the vast ma- 
jority, are given there not as re-translations from the German but 
in the original English form. In preparing the fourth edition it 

* In the English edition of 1887 this addition was made by Engels 
himself. — Ed. 

** In the present edition they are put into square brackets and marked 
with the initials "F. E."— Ed. 


was therefore incumbent upon me to consult this text. The com- 
parison revealed various small inaccuracies. Page numbers wrong- 
ly indicated, due partly to mistakes in copying from note-books, 
and partly to the accumulated misprints of three editions; mis- 
placed quotation or omission marks, which cannot be avoided 
when a mass of quotations is copied from note-book extracts; 
here and there some rather unhappy translation of a word; partic- 
ular passages quoted from the old Paris note-books of 1843-45, 
when Marx did not know English and was reading English 
economists in French translations, so that the double translation 
yielded a slightly different shade of meaning, e.g., in the case of 
Steuart, Ure, etc., where the English text had now to be used — 
and other similar instances of trifling inaccuracy or negligence. 
But anyone who compares the fourth edition with the previous 
ones can convince himself that all this laborious process of emen- 
dation has not produced the smallest change in the book worth 
speaking of. There was only one quotation which could not be 
traced— the one from Richard Jones (4th edition, p. 562, note 
47). Marx probably slipped up when writing down the title of the 
book.* All the other quotations retain their cogency in full, 
or have enhanced it due to their present exact form. 

Here, however, I am obliged to revert to an old story. 

I know of only one case in which the accuracy of a quotation 
given by Marx has been called in question. But as the issue 
dragged beyond his lifetime I cannot well ignore it here. 

On March 7, 1872, there appeared in the Berlin Concordia, 
organ of the German Manufacturers' Association, an anonymous 
article entitled: "How Karl Marx Quotes." It was here asserted, 
with an effervescence of moral indignation and unparliamentary 
language, that the quotation from Gladstone's Budget Speech 
of April 16, 1863 (in the Inaugural Address of the Internationa) 
Workingmen's Association, 1864, and repeated in "Capital," Vol. 
I, p. 617, 4th edition; p. 671, 3rd edition) [present edition, 
p. 651], had been falsified; that not a single word of the sentence: 
"this intoxicating augmentation of wealth and power ... is ... 
entirely confined to classes of property" was to be found in the 
(semi-official) stenographic report in Hansard. "But this sentence 
is nowhere to be found in Gladstone's speech. Exactly the oppo- 
site is stated there." (In bold type): "This sentence, both in form 
and substance, is a lie inserted by Marx." 

* Marx was not mistaken in the title ot the book bat in the page. He 
put down 36 instead of 37. (See p. 598 of the present edition.)— Ed. 


Marx, to whom the number of Concordia was sent the fol- 
lowing May, answered the anonymous author in the Volksstaat of 
June 1st. As he could not recall which* newspaper report he 
had used for the quotation, he limited himself to citing, first the 
equivalent quotation from two English publications, and then 
the report in The Times, according to which Gladstone says: 

"That is the state of the case as regards the wealth of this 
country. I must say for one, I should look almost with apprehen- 
sion and with pain upon this intoxicating augmentation of wealth 
and power, if it were my belief that it was confined to classes 
who are in easy circumstances. This takes no cognisance at all of 
the condition of the labouring population. The augmentation I have 
described and which is founded, I think, upon accurate returns, is 
an augmentation entirely confined to classes possessed of property." 

Thus Gladstone says here that he would be sorry if it were so, 
but it is so: this intoxicating augmentation of wealth and power 
is entirely confined to classes of property. And as to the semi- 
official Hansard, Marx goes on to say: "In the version which he 
afterwards manipulated [zurechtgestumpert], Mr. Gladstone was 
astute enough to obliterate [wegzupfuschen] this passage, which, 
coming from an English Chancellor of the Exchequer, was certain- 
ly compromising. This, by the way, is a traditional usage in the 
English parliament and not an invention gotten up by little 
Lasker against Bebel." 

The anonymous writer gets angrier and angrier. In his answer 
in Concordia July 4th, he sweeps aside second-hand sources and 
demurely suggests that it is the "custom" to quote parliamentary 
speeches from the stenographic report; adding, however, that 
The Times report (which includes the "falsified" sentence) and 
the Hansard report (which omits it) are "substantially in complete 
agreement," while The Times report likewise contains "the exact 
opposite to that notorious passage in the Inaugural Address." 
This fellow carefully conceals the fact that The Times report 
explicitly includes that self-same "notorious passage," alongside 
of its alleged "opposite." Despite all this, however, the anony- 
mous one feels that he is stuck fast and that only some new dodge 
can save him. Thus, whilst his article bristles, as we have just 
shown, with "impudent mendacity" and is interlarded with such 
edifying terms of abuse as "bad faith," "dishonesty," "lying alle- 
gation," "that spurious quotation," "impudent mendacity," 
"a quotation entirely falsified," "this falsification," "sim- 
ply infamous," etc., he finds it necessary to divert the issue 
to another domain and therefore promises "to explain in ajsecond 


article the meaning which we (the non-mendacious anonymous one) 
attribute to the content of Gladstone's words." As if his particular 
opinion, of no decisive value as it is, had anything whatever to do 
with the matter. This second article was printed in Concordia on 
July 11th. 

Marx replied again in the Volksstaat of August 7th now 
giving also the reports of the passage in question from the Morn- 
ing Star and the Morning Advertiser of April 17, 1863. According 
to both reports Gladstone said that he would look with appre- 
hension, etc., upon this intoxicating augmentation of wealth and 
power if he believed it to be confined to "classes in easy circum- 
stances." But this augmentation was in fact "entirely confined to 
classes possessed of property." So these reports too reproduced 
word for word the sentence alleged to have been "lyingly inserted." 
Marx further established once more, by a comparison of The 
Times and the Hansard texts that this sentence, which three 
newspaper reports of identical content, appearing independently 
of one another the next morning, proved to have been really 
uttered, was missing from the Hansard report, revised according 
to the familiar "custom," and that Gladstone, to use Marx's 
words, "had afterwards conjured it away." In conclusion Marx 
stated that he had no time for further intercourse with the anon- 
ymous one. The latter also seems to have had enough, at any 
rate Marx received no further issues of Concordia. 

With this the matter appeared to be dead and buried. True, 
once or twice later on there reached us, from persons in touch 
with the University of Cambridge, mysterious rumours of an 
unspeakable literary crime which Marx was supposed to have 
committed in "Capital"; but despite all investigation nothing more 
definite could be learned. Then, on November 29, 1883, eight 
months after Marx's death, there appeared in The Times a letter 
headed Trinity College, Cambridge, and signed Sedley Taylor, 
in which this little man, who dabbles in the mildest sort of co- 
operative affairs, seizing upon some chance pretext or other, at 
last enlightened us, not only concerning those vague Cambridge 
rumours, but also the anonymous one in Concordia. 

"What appears extremely singular," says the little man 
from Trinity College, "is that it was reserved for Professor Bren- 
tano (then of the University of Breslau, now of that of Strass- 
burg) to expose... the bad faith which had manifestly dic- 
tated the citation made from Mr. Gladstone's speech in the [Inau- 
gural] Address. Herr Karl Marx, who ... attempted to defend 
the citation, had the hardihood, in the deadly shifts to which 


Brentano's masterly conduct of the attack speedily reduced him, 
to assert that Mr. Gladstone had 'manipulated' the report of his 
speech in The Times of April 17, 1863, before it appeared in Han- 
sard, in order to 'obliterate' a passage which 'was certainly com- 
promising' for an English Chancellor of the Exchequer. On Bren- 
tano's showing, by a detailed comparison of texts, that the 
reports of The Times and of Hansard agreed in utterly excluding 
the meaning which craftily isolated quotation had put upon 
Mr. Gladstone's words, Marx withdrew from further controversy 
under the plea of 'want of time.'" 

So that was at the bottom of the whole business! And thus 
was the anonymous campaign of Herr Brentano in Concordia glo- 
riously reflected in the productively co-operating imagination of 
Cambridge. Thus he stood, sword in hand, and thus he battled, 
in his "masterly conduct of the attack," this St. George of the 
German Manufacturers' Association, whilst the infernal dragon 
Marx, "in deadly shifts," "speedily" breathed his last at his feet. 

All this Ariostian battle-scene, however, only serves to conceal 
the dodges of our St. George. Here there is no longer talk of "lying 
insertion" or "falsification," but of "craftily isolated quotation." 
The whole issue was shifted, and St. George and his Cambridge 
squire very well knew why. 

Eleanor Marx replied in the monthly journal To-day (Febru- 
ary 1884), as The Times refused to publish her letter. She once 
more focussed the debate on the sole question at issue: had Marx 
"lyingly inserted" that sentence or not? To this Mr. Sedley Taylor 
answered that "the question whether a particular sentence did 
or did not occur in Mr. Gladstone's speech" had been, in his 
opinion, "of very subordinate importance" in the Brentano-Marx 
controversy, "compared to the issue whether the quotation in 
dispute was made with the intention of conveying, or of pervert- 
ing Mr. Gladstone's meaning." He then admits that The Times 
report contains "a verbal contrariety"; but, if the context is right- 
ly interpreted, i.e., in the Gladstonian Liberal sense, it shows 
what Mr. Gladstone meant to say. (To-day, March, 1884.) The 
most comic point here is that our little Cambridge man now insists 
upon quoting the speech not from Hansard, as, according to the 
anonymous Brentano, it is "customary" to do, but from The 
Times report, which the same Brentano had characterised as 
"necessarily bungling." Naturally so, for in Hansard the vexatious 
sentence is missing. 

Eleanor Marx had no difficulty (in the same issue of To-day) 
in dissolving all this argumentation into thin air. Either Mr. 


Taylor had read the controversy of 1872, in which case he was 
now making not only "lying insertions" but also "lying" suppres- 
sions; or he had not read it and ought to remain silent. In either 
case it was certain that he did not dare to maintain for a moment 
the accusation of his friend Brentano that Marx had made a 
"lying" addition. On the contrary, Marx, it now seems, had not 
lyingly added but suppressed an important sentence. But this same 
sentence is quoted on page 5 of the Inaugural Address, a few lines 
before the alleged "lying insertion." And as to the "contrariety" 
in Gladstone's speech, is it not Marx himself, who in "Capital," 
p. 618 (3rd edition, p. 672), note 105 [present edition, p. 
652, Note 3], refers to "the continual crying contradictions 
in Gladstone's Budget speeches of 1863 and 1864"? Only he 
does not presume a la Mr. Sedley Taylor to resolve them into 
complacent Liberal sentiments. Eleanor Marx, in concluding 
her reply, finally sums up as follows: 

"Marx has not suppressed anything worth quoting, neither 
has he 'lyingly' added anything. But he has restored, rescued 
from oblivion, a particular sentence of one of Mr. Gladstone's 
speeches, a sentence which had indubitably been pronounced, but 
which somehow or other had found its way— out of Hansard." 

With that Mr. Sedley Taylor too had had enough, and the 
result of this whole professorial cobweb, spun out over two decades 
and two great countries, is that nobody has since dared to cast any 
other aspersion upon Marx's literary honesty; whilst Mr. Sedley 
Taylor, no doubt, will hereafter put as little confidence in the 
literary war bulletins of Herr Brentano as Herr Brentano will in 
the papal infallibility of Hansard. 

Frederick Engels 
London, June 25, 1890 











The wealth of those societies in which the capitalist mode 
of production prevails, presents itself as "an immense accumula- 
tion of commodities," 1 its unit being a single commodity. Our 
investigation must therefore begin with the analysis of a com- 

A commodity is, in the first place, an object outside us, a 
thing that by its properties satisfies human wants of some sort 
or another. The nature of such wants, whether, for instance, 
they spring from the stomach or from fancy, makes no differ- 
ence. 2 Neither are we here concerned to know how the object 
satisfies these wants, whether directly as means of subsistence, 
or indirectly as means of production. 

Every useful thing, as iron, paper, &c, may be looked at 
from the two points of view of quality and quantity. It is an 
assemblage of many properties, and may therefore be of use in 
various ways. To discover the various uses of things is the work 
of history. 3 So also is the establishment of socially-recognised 

1 Karl Marx, "Zur Kritik der Politischen Oekonomie." Berlin, 1859, p. 3. 

2 "Desire implies want; it is the appetite of the mind, and as natural 
as hunger to the body.... The greatest number (of things) have their value 
from supplying the wants of the mind." Nicholas Barbon: "A Discourse Con- 
cerning Coining the New Money Lighter. In Answer to Mr. Locke's Con- 
siderations," «&c, London, 1696, pp. 2, 3. 

3 'Tilings have an intrinsick vertue" (this is Barbon's special term lor 
value in use) "which in all places have the same vertue; as the loadstone to 
attract iron" (1. c, p. 6). The property which the magnet possesses of at- 
tracting iron, became of use only after by means oi that property the po- 
larity of the magnet had been discovered. 


standards of measure for the quantities of these useful objects. 
The diversity of these measures has its origin partly in the di- 
verse nature of the objects to be measured, partly in convention. 

The utility of a thing makes it a use-value. x But this utility 
is not a thing of air. Being limited by the physical properties of 
the commodity, it has no existence apart from that commodity. 
A commodity, such as iron, corn, or a diamond, is therefore, so 
far as it is a material thing, a use-value, something useful. This 
property of a commodity is independent of the amount of labour 
required to appropriate its useful qualities. When treating of 
use-value, we always assume to be dealing with definite quantities, 
such as dozens of watches, yards of linen, or tons of iron. The 
use-values of commodities furnish the material for a special 
study, that of the commercial knowledge of commodities. 2 
Use-values become a reality only by use or consumption: they 
also constitute the substance of all wealth, whatever may be the 
social form of that wealth. In the form of society we are about to 
consider, they are, in addition, the material depositories of ex- 

Exchange-value, at first sight, presents itself as a quantita- 
tive relation, as the proportion in which values in use of one sort 
are exchanged for those of another sort, 3 a relation constantly 
changing with time and place. Hence exchange-value appears 
to be something accidental and purely relative, and consequently 
an intrinsic value, i.e., an exchange-value that is inseparably 
connected with, inherent in commodities, seems a contradiction 
in terms. 4 Let us consider the matter a little more closely. 

1 "The natural worth of anything consists in its fitness to supply the 
necessities, or serve the conveniencies of human life." (John Locke, "Some Con- 
siderations on the Consequences of the Lowering of Interest, 1691," in Works 
Edit. Lond., 1777, Vol. II., p. 28.) In English writers of the 17th century we 
frequently find "worth" in the sense of value in use, and "value" in the sense 
of exchange-value. This is quite in accordance with the spirit of a language 
that likes to use a Teutonic word for the actual thing, and a Romance word 
for its reflexion. 

2 In bourgeois societies the economic fictio juris prevails, that every 
one, as a buyer, possesses an encyclopaedic knowledge of commodities. 

3 "La valeur consiste dans le rapport d'echange qui se trouve entre telle 
chose et telle autre, entre telle mesure d'une production, et telle mesure d'une 
autre." (Le Trosne: "De l'lnteret Social." Physiocrates. Ed. Daire. Paris, 
1846. P. 889.) 

4 "Nothing can have an intrinsick value." (N. Barbon, 1. c, p. 6); 
or as Butler says — 

"The value of a thing 
Is just as much as it will bring." 


A given commodity, e.g., a quarter of wheat is exchanged 
for x blacking, y silk, or z gold, &c— in short, for other commodi- 
ties in the most different proportions. Instead of one exchange- 
value, the wheat has, therefore, a great many. But since x black- 
ing, y silk, or z gold, &c, each represent the exchange-value 
of one quarter of wheat, x blacking, y silk, z gold, &c, must, 
as exchange-values, be replaceable by each other, or equal to 
each other. Therefore, first: the valid exchange-values of a given 
commodity express something equal; secondly, exchange-value, 
generally, is only the mode of expression, the phenomenal form, 
of something contained in it, yet distinguishable from it. 

Let us take two commodities, e.g., corn and iron. The pro- 
portions in which they are exchangeable, whatever those propor- 
tions may be, can always be represented by an equation in which 
a given quantity of corn is equated to some quantity of iron: 
e.g., 1 quarter corn=xcwt. iron. What does this equation tell us? 
It tells us that in two different things — in 1 quarter of corn and 
x cwt. of iron, there exists in equal quantities something common 
to both. The two things must therefore be equal to a third, which 
in itself is neither the one nor the other. Each of them, so far 
as it is exchange-value, must therefore be reducible to this third. 

A simple geometrical illustration will make this clear. In 
order to calculate and compare the areas of rectilinear figures, we 
decompose them into triangles. But the area of the triangle itself 
is expressed by something totally different from its visible figure, 
namely, by half the product of the base into the altitude. In the 
same way the exchange-values of commodities must be capable 
of being expressed in terms of something common to them all, 
of which thing they represent a greater or less quantity. 

This common "something" cannot be either a geometrical, 
a chemical, or any other natural property of commodities. Such 
properties claim our attention only in so far as they affect the 
utility of those commodities, make them use-values. But the 
exchange of commodities is evidently an act characterised by a 
total abstraction from use-value. Then one use-value is just as 
good as another, provided only it be present in sufficient quantity. 
Or, as old Barbon says, "one sort of wares are as good as another, if 
the values be equal. There is no difference or distinction in things of 
equal value.... An hundred pounds' worth of lead or iron, is 
of as great value as one hundred pounds' worth of silver or gold." 1 
As use-values, commodities are, above all, of different qualities, 

1 N. Barbon, 1. c, p. 53 and 7. 


but as exchange-values they are merely different quantities, and 
consequently do not contain an atom of use-value. 

If then we leave out of consideration the use-value of com- 
modities, they have only one common property left, that of being 
products of labour. But even the product of labour itself has un- 
dergone a change in our hands. If we make abstraction from its 
use-value, we make abstraction at the same time from the material 
elements and shapes that make the product a use-value; we see 
in it no longer a table, a house, yarn, or any other useful thing. 
Its existence as a material thing is put out of sight. Neither can 
it any longer be regarded as the product of the labour of the joiner, 
the mason, the spinner, or of any other definite kind of productive 
labour. Along with the useful qualities of the products them- 
selves, we put out of sight both the useful character of the various 
kinds of labour embodied in them, and the concrete forms of that 
labour; there is nothing left but what is common to them all; 
all are reduced to one and the same sort of labour, human labour 
in the abstract. ' 

Let us now consider the residue of each of these products; 
it consists of the same unsubstantial reality in each, a mere con- 
gelation of homogeneous human labour, of labour-power expend- 
ed without regard to the mode of its expenditure. All that these 
things now tell us is, that human labour-power has been expended 
in their production, that human labour is embodied in them. When 
looked at as crystals of this social substance, common to them 
all, they are — Values. 

We have seen that when commodities are exchanged, their 
exchange-value manifests itself as something totally independent 
of their use-value. But if we abstract from their use-value, there 
remains their Value as defined above. Therefore, the common 
substance that manifests itself in the exchange-value of commod- 
ities, whenever they are exchanged, is their value. The progress 
of our investigation will show that exchange-value is the only 
form in which the value of commodities can manifest itself or 
be expressed. For the present, however, we have to consider the 
nature of value independently of this, its form. 

A use-value, or useful article, therefore, has value only because 
human labour in the abstract has been embodied or materialised 
in it. How, then, is the magnitude of this value to be measured? 
Plainly, by the quantity of the value-creating substance, the 
labour, contained in the article. The quantity of labour, however, 
is measured by its duration, and labour-time in its turn finds its 
standard in weeks, days, and hours. 


Some people might think that if the value of a commodity 
is determined by the quantity of labour spent on it, the more 
idle and unskilful the labourer, the more valuable would his 
commodity be, because more time would be required in its pro- 
duction. The labour, however, that forms the substance of value, 
is homogeneous human labour, expenditure of one uniform la- 
bour-power. The total labour-power of society, which is embodied 
in the sum total of the values of all commodities produced by that 
society, counts here as one homogeneous mass of human labour- 
power, composed though it be of innumerable individual units. 
Each of these units is the same as any other, so far as it has the 
character of the average labour-power of society, and takes effect as 
such; that is, so far as it requires for producing a commodity, no 
more time than is needed on an average, no more than is socially 
necessary. The labour-time socially necessary is that required to 
produce an article under the normal conditions of production, and 
with the average degree of skill and intensity prevalent at the time. 
The introduction of power-looms into England probably reduced 
by one-half the labour required to weave a given quantity of 
yarn into cloth. The hand-loom weavers, as a matter of fact, 
continued to require the same time as before; but for all that, the 
product of one hour of their labour represented after the change 
only half an hour's social labour, and consequently fell to one-half 
its former value. 

We see then that that which determines the magnitude of the 
value of any article is the amount of labour socially necessary, 
or the labour-time socially necessary for its production. 1 Each 
individual commodity, in this connexion, is to be considered as 
an average sample of its class. 2 Commodities, therefore, in which 
equal quantities of labour are embodied, or which can be produced 
in the same time, have the same value. The value of one commodity 
is to the value of any other, as the labour-time necessary for the 
production of the one is to that necessary for the production of the 

1 "The value of them (the necessaries of life), when they are exchanged 
the one for another, is regulated by the quantity of labour necessarily re- 
quired, and commonly taken in producing them." ("Some Thoughts on the 
Interest of Money in General, and Particularly in the Publick Funds, &c." 
Lond., p. 36.) This remarkable anonymous work, written in the last cen- 
tury, bears no date. It is clear, however, from internal evidence, that it ap- 
peared in the reign of George II. about 1739 or 1740. 

2 "Toutes les productions d'un meme genre ne forment proprement 
qu'une masse, dont le prix se determine en general et sans egard aux circon- 
stances particulieres." (Le Trosne, 1. c, p. 893.) 


other. "As values, all commodities are only definite masses of 
congealed labour-time." 1 

The value of a commodity would therefore remain constant, 
if the labour-time required for its production also remained 
constant. But the latter changes with every variation in the 
productiveness of labour. This productiveness is determined by 
various circumstances, amongst others, by the average amount 
of skill of the workmen, the state of science, and the degree of 
its practical application, the social organisation of production, 
the extent and capabilities of the means of production, and by 
physical conditions. For example, the same amount of labour in 
favourable seasons is embodied in 8 bushels of corn, and in unfa- 
vourable, only in four. The same labour extracts from rich mines 
more metal than from poor mines. Diamonds are of very rare 
occurrence on the earth's surface, and hence their discovery costs, 
on an average, a great deal of labour-time. Consequently much 
labour is represented in a small compass. Jacob doubts whether 
gold has ever been paid for at its full value. This applies still 
more to diamonds. According to Eschwege, the total produce of 
the Brazilian diamond mines for the eighty years, ending in 1823, 
had not realised the price of one-and-a-half years' average produce 
of the sugar and coffee plantations of the same country, although 
the diamonds cost much more labour, and therefore represented 
more value. With richer mines, the same quantity of labour would 
embody itself in more diamonds, and their value would fall. 
If we could succeed at a small expenditure of labour, in converting 
carbon into diamonds, their value might fall below that of bricks. 
In general, the greater the productiveness of labour, the less is 
the labour-time required for the production of an article, the less 
is the amount of labour crystallised in that article, and the less is 
its value; and vice versa, the less the productiveness of labour, the 
greater is the labour-time required for the production of an article, 
and the greater is its value. The value of a commodity, there- 
fore, varies directly as the quantity, and inversely as the produc- 
tiveness, of the labour incorporated in it. 

A thing can be a use-value, without having value. This is 
the case whenever its utility to man is not due to labour. Such 
are air, virgin soil, uatural meadows, &c. A thing can be useful, 
and the product of human labour, without being a commodity. 
Whoever directly satisfies his wants with the produce of his own 
labour, creates, indeed, use-values, but not commodities. In order 

1 K. Marx, 1. c, p. 6. 


to produce the latter, he must not only produce use-values, but 
use-values for others, social use-values. (And not only for others, 
without more. The mediaeval peasant produced quit-rent-corn 
for his feudal lord and tithe-corn for his parson. But neither the 
quit-rent-corn nor the tithe-corn became commodities by reason 
of the fact that they had been produced for others. To become a 
commodity a product must be transferred to another, whom it 
will serve as a use-value, by means of an exchange.) 1 Lastly 
nothing can have value, without being an object of utility. If 
the thing is useless, so is the labour contained in it; the labour 
does not count as labour, and therefore creates no value. 


At first sight a commodity presented itself to us as a complex 
of two things — use-value and exchange-value. Later on, we saw 
also that labour, too, possesses the same two-fold nature; for, so 
far as it finds expression in value, it does not possess the same 
characteristics that belong to it as a creator of use-values. I was 
the first to point out and to examine critically this two-fold nature 
of the labour contained in commodities. As this point is the 
pivot on which a clear comprehension of Political Economy turns, 
we must go more into detail. 

Let us take two commodities such as a coat and 10 yards of 
linen, and let the former be double the value of the latter, so that, 
if 10 yards of linen =W, the coat=2W. 

The coat is a use-value that satisfies a particular want. Its 
existence is the result of a special sort of productive activity, the 
nature of which is determined by its aim, mode of operation, 
subject, means, and result. The labour, whose utility is thus 
represented by the value in use of its product, or which mani- 
fests itself by making its product a use-value, we call useful 
labour. In this connexion we consider only its useful effect. 

As the coat and the linen are two qualitatively different use- 
values, so also are the two forms of labour that produce them, 
tailoring and weaving. Were these two objects not qualitatively 
different, not produced respectively by labour of different quality, 
they could not stand to each other in the relation of commodities. 

1 [Note in the 4th German edition: I am inserting the parenthesis 
because its omission has often given rise to the misunderstanding that every 
product that is consumed by some one other than its producer is considered 
in Marx a commodity. — F. E.\ 


Coats are not exchanged for coats, one use-value is not exchanged 
for another of the same kind. 

To all the different varieties of values in use there correspond 
as many different kinds of useful labour, classified according to the 
order, genus, species, and variety to which they belong in the 
social division of labour. This division of labour is a necessary 
condition for the production of commodities, but it does not 
follow, conversely, that the production of commodities is a 
necessary condition for the division of labour. In the primitive 
Indian community there is social division of labour, without 
production of commodities. Or, to take an example nearer home, 
in every factory the labour is divided according to a system, but 
this division is not brought about by the operatives mutually 
exchanging their individual products. Only such products can 
become commodities with regard to each other, as result from 
different kinds of labour, each kind being carried on independ- 
ently and for the account of private individuals. 

To resume, then: In the use-value of each commodity there 
is contained useful labour, i.e., productive activity of a definite 
kind and exercised with a definite aim. Use-values cannot con- 
front each other as commodities, unless the useful labour em- 
bodied in them is qualitatively different in each of them. In a 
community, the produce of which in general takes the form of 
commodities, i.e., in a community of commodity producers, this 
qualitative difference between the useful forms of labour that are 
carried on independently by individual producers, each on 
their own account, develops into a complex system, a social 
division of labour. 

Anyhow, whether the coat be worn by the tailor or by his 
customer, in either case it operates as a use-value. Nor is the 
relation between the coat and the labour that produced it altered 
by the circumstance that tailoring may have become a special 
trade, an independent branch of the social division of labour. 
Wherever the want of clothing forced them to it, the human race 
made clothes for thousands of years, without a single man becom- 
ing a tailor. But coats and linen, like every other element of 
material wealth that is not the spontaneous produce of Nature, 
must invariably owe their existence to a special productive activ- 
ity, exercised with a definite aim, an activity that appropriates 
particular nature-given materials to particular human wants. 
So far therefore as labour is a creator of use-value, is useful labour, 
it is a necessary condition, independent of all forms of society, 
for the existence of the human race; it is an eternal nature- 


imposed necessity, without which there can be no material ex- 
changes between man and Nature, and therefore no life. 

The use-values, coat, linen, &c, i.e., the bodies of commodi- 
ties, are combinations of two elements— matter and labour. 
If we take away the useful labour expended upon them, a mate- 
rial substratum is always left, which is furnished by Nature 
without the help of man. The latter can work only as Nature does, 
that is by changing the form of matter. 1 Nay more, in this work of 
changing the form he is constantly helped by natural forces. We 
see, then, that labour is not the only source of material wealth, of 
use-values produced by labour. As William Petty puts it, labour 
is its father and the earth its mother. 

Let us now pass from the commodity considered as a use- 
value to the value of commodities. 

By our assumption, the coat is worth twice as much as the 
linen. But this is a mere quantitative difference, which for the 
present does not concern us. We bear in mind, however, that 
if the value of the coat is double that of 10 yds. of linen, 20 yds. 
of linen must have the same value as one coat. So far as they are 
values, the coat and the linen are things of a like substance, objec- 
tive expressions of essentially identical labour. But tailoring and 
weaving are, qualitatively, different kinds of labour. There are, 
however, states of society in which one and the same man does 
tailoring and weaving alternately, in which case these two forms 
of labour are mere modifications of the labour of the same indi- 
vidual, and no special and fixed functions of different persons; 
just as the coat which our tailor makes one day, and the trousers 
which he makes another day, imply only a variation in the labour 
of one and the same individual. Moreover, we see at a glance that, 
in our capitalist society, a given portion of human labour is, in 
accordance with the varying demand, at one time supplied in the 
form of tailoring, at another in the form of weaving. This change 

1 Tutti i fenomeni dell' universo, sieno essi prodotti della mano dell' 
uomo, ovvero delle universali leggi della fisica, non ci danno idea di attuale 
creazione, ma unicamente di una modi ficazi one della materia. Accostare e 
separare sono gli unici elementi che l'ingegno umano ritrova analizzando 
l'idea della riproduzione: e tanto e riproduzione di valore (value in use, 
although Verri in this passage of his controversy with the Physiocrats is 
not himself quite certain of the kind of value he is speaking of) e di ricchezze 
se la terra, l'aria e l'acqua ne' campi si trasmutino in grano. come se colla 
mano dell'uomo il glutine di un insetto si trasmuti in velluto ovvero alcuni 
pezzetti di metallo si organizzino a formare una ripetizione."— Pietro 
Veri, "Meditazioni sulla Economia Politica" [first printed in 1773] inCus- 
todi's edition of the Italian Economists, Parte Moderna, t. XV., p. 22. 


may possibly not take place without friction, but take place it 

Productive activity, if we leave out of sight its special form, 
viz., the useful character of the labour, is nothing but the ex- 
penditure of human labour-power. Tailoring and weaving, though 
qualitatively different productive activities, are each a productive 
expenditure of human brains, nerves, and muscles, and in this 
sense are human labour. They are but two different modes of ex- 
pending human labour-power. Of course, this labour-power, 
which remains the same under all its modifications, must have 
attained a certain pitch of development before it can be expended 
in a multiplicity of modes. But the value of a commodity repre- 
sents human labour in the abstract, the expenditure of human la- 
bour in general. And just as in society, a general or a banker plays 
a great part, but mere man, on the other hand, a very shabby part, * 
so here with mere human labour. It is the expenditure of simple 
labour-power, i.e., of the labour-power which, on ^n average, apart 
from any special development, exists in the organism of every 
ordinary individual. Simple average labour, it is true, varies 
in character in different countries and at different times, but in 
a particular society it is given. Skilled labour counts only as 
simple labour intensified, or rather, as multiplied simple labour, 
a given quantity of skilled being considered equal to a greater 
quantity of simple labour. Experience shows that this reduction 
is constantly being made. A commodity may be the product of 
the most skilled labour, but its value, by equating it to the 
product of simple unskilled labour, represents a definite quantity 
of the latter labour alone. 2 The different proportions in which 
different sorts of labour are reduced to unskilled labour as their 
standard, are established by a social process that goes on behind 
the backs of the producers, and, consequently, appear to be fixed 
by custom. For simplicity's sake we shall henceforth account 
every kind of labour to be unskilled, simple labour; by this we 
do no more than save ourselves the trouble of making the reduction. 

Just as, therefore, in viewing the coat and linen as values, 
we abstract from their different use-values, so it is with the labour 
represented by those values: we disregard the difference between 
its useful forms, weaving and tailoring. As the use-values, coat 

1 Comp. Hegel, "Philosophie des Rechts." Berlin, 1840. P. 250, § 190. 

2 The reader must note that we are not speaking here of the wages or 
value that the labourer gets for a given labour-time, but of the value of the 
commodity in which that labour-time is materialised. Wages is a category 
that, as yet, has no existence at the present stage of our investigation. 


and linen, are combinations of special productive activities with 
cloth and yarn, while the values, coat and linen, are, on the other 
hand, mere homogeneous congelations of undifferentiated labour, 
so the labour embodied in these latter values does not count by 
virtue of its productive relation to cloth and yarn, but only as 
being expenditure of human labour-power. Tailoring and weav- 
ing are necessary factors in the creation of the use-values, coat 
and linen, precisely because these two kinds of labour are of differ- 
ent qualities; but only in so far as abstraction is made from their 
special qualities, only in so far as both possess the same quality 
of being human labour, do tailoring and weaving form the sub- 
stance of the values of the same articles. 

Coats and linen, however, are not merely values, but values 
of definite magnitude, and according to our assumption, the coat 
is worth twice as much as the ten yards of linen. Whence this 
di (Terence in their values? It is owing to the fact that the linen 
contains only half as much labour as the coat, and consequently, 
that in the production of the latter, labour-power must have been 
expended during twice the time necessary for the production of 
the former. 

While, therefore, with reference to use-value, the labour con- 
tained in a commodity counts only qualitatively, with reference 
to value it counts only quantitatively, and must first be reduced 
to human labour pure and simple. In the former case, it is a ques- 
tion of How and What, in the latter of How much? How long a 
time? Since the magnitude of the value of a commodity represents 
only the quantity of labour embodied in it, it follows that all 
commodities, when taken in certain proportions, must be equal 
in value. 

If the productive power of all the different sorts of useful 
labour required for the production of a coat remains unchanged, 
the sum of the values of the coats produced increases with their 
number. If one coat represents x days' labour, two coats represent 
2x days' labour, and so on. But assume that the duration of the 
labour necessary for the production of a coat becomes doubled or 
halved. In the first case, one coat is worth as much as two coats 
were before; in the second case, two coats are only worth as much as 
one was before, although in both cases one coat renders the same 
service as before, and the useful labour embodied in it remains 
of the same quality. But the quantity of labour spent on its 
production has altered. 

An increase in the quantity of use-values is an increase of 
material wealth. With two coats two men can be clothed, with 


one coat only one man. Nevertheless, an increased quantity of 
material wealth may correspond to a simultaneous fall in the mag- 
nitude of its value. This antagonistic movement has its origin 
in the two-fold character of labour. Productive power has reference, 
of course, only to labour of some useful concrete form, the efficacy 
of any special productive activity during a given time being de- 
pendent on its productiveness. Useful labour becomes, therefore, 
a more or less abundant source of products, in proportion to the 
rise or fall of its productiveness. On the other hand, no change in 
this productiveness affects the labour represented by value. 
Since productive power is an attribute of the concrete useful forms 
of labour, of course it can no longer have any bearing on that la- 
bour, so soon as we make abstraction from those concrete useful 
forms. However then productive power may vary, the same labour, 
exercised during equal periods of time, always yields equal amounts 
of value. But it will yield, during equal periods of time, dif- 
ferent quantities of values in use; more, if the productive power 
rise, fewer, if it fall. The same change in productive power, which 
increases the fruitfulness of labour, and, in consequence, the 
quantity of use-values produced by that labour, will diminish 
the total value of this increased quantity of use-values, provided 
such change shorten the total labour-time necessary for their 
production; and vice versa. 

On the one hand all labour is, speaking physiologically, an 
expenditure of human labour-power, and in its character of iden- 
tical abstract human labour, it creates and forms the value of 
commodities. On the other hand, all labour is the expenditure 
of human labour-power in a special form and with a definite aim, 
and in this, its character of concrete useful labour, it produces 
use-values. * 

1 In order to prove that labour alone is that all-sufficient and real 
measure, by which at all times the value of all commodities can be esti- 
mated and compared, Adam Smith says, "Equal quantities of labour must at 
all times and in all places have the same value for the labourer. In his nor- 
mal state of health, strength, and activity, and with the average degree of 
skill that he may possess, he must always give up the same portion of his 
rest, his freedom, and his happiness." ("Wealth of Nations," b. I. ch.V.) On 
the one hand, Adam Smith here (but not everywhere) confuses the determi- 
nation of value by means of the quantity of labour expended in the produc- 
tion of commodities, with the determination of the values of commodities 
by means of the value of labour, and seeks in consequence to prove that equal 
quantities of labour have always the same value On the other hand, he has 
a presentiment, that labour, so far as it manifests itself in the value of com- 
modities, counts only as expenditure of labour-power, but he treats this ex- 
penditure as the mere sacrifice of rest, freedom, and happiness, not as at the 



Commodities come into the world in the shape of use-values, 
articles, or goods, such as iron, linen, corn, &c. This is their 
plain, homely, bodily form. They are, however, commodities, 
only because they are something two-fold, both objects of utility, 
and, at the same time, depositories of value. They manifest 
themselves therefore as commodities, or have the form of com- 
modities, only in so far as they have two forms, a physical or 
natural form, and a value-form. 

The reality of the value of commodities differs in this respect 
from Dame Quickly, that we don't know "where to have it." 
The value of commodities is the very opposite of the coarse mate- 
riality of their substance, not an atom of matter enters into its 
composition. Turn and examine a single commodity, by itself, 
as we will, yet in so far as it remains an object of value, it seems 
impossible to grasp it. If, however, we bear in mind that the 
value of commodities has a purely social reality, and that they 
acquire this reality only in so far as they are expressions or em- 
bodiments of one identical social substance, viz., human labour, 
it follows as a matter of course, that value can only manifest 
itself in the social relation of commodity to commodity. In fact 
we started from exchange-value, or the exchange relation of com- 
modities, in order to get at the value that lies hidden behind it. 
We must now return to this form under which value first appeared 
to us. 

Every one knows, if he knows nothing else, that commodities 
have a value-form common to them all, and presenting a marked 
contrast with the varied bodily forms of their use-values. I mean 
their money-form. Here, however, a task is set us, the perform- 
ance of which has never yet even been attempted by bourgeois 
economy, the task of tracing the genesis of this money-form, of 

same time the normal activity of living beings. But then, he has the modern 
wage-labourer in his eye. Much more aptly, the anonymous predecessor 
of Adam Smith, quoted above in Note 1, p. 39, says "one man has employed 
himself a week in providing this necessary of life .. and he that gives him some 
other in exchange, cannot make a better estimate of what is a proper equiva- 
lent, than by computing what cost him just as much labour and time; which 
in effect is no more than exchanging one man's labour in one thing for a 
time certain, for another man's labour in another thing for the same time." 
(1. c, p. 39.) [The English language has the advantage of possessing different 
words for the two aspects of labour here considered. The labour which cre- 
ates Use-Value, and counts qualitatively is Work, as distinguished from 
Labour; that which creates Value and counts quantitatively, is Labour 
as distinguished from Work. — F. E.\ 


developing the expression of value implied in the value-relation 
of commodities, from its simplest, almost imperceptible outline, 
to the dazzling money-form. By doing this we shall, at the same 
time, solve the riddle presented by money. 

The simplest value-relation is evidently that of one commod- 
ity to some one other commodity of a different kind. Hence the 
relation between the values of two commodities supplies us with 
the simplest expression of the value of a single commodity. 

A. Elementary or Accidental form of value 

x commodity A=y commodity B, or 
x commodity A is worth y commodity B. 
20 yards of linen =1 coat, or 
20 yards of linen are worth 1 coat. 

/. The two poles of the expression of value: 
Relative form and Equivalent form 

The whole mystery of the form of value lies hidden in this 
elementary form. Its analysis, therefore, is our real difficulty. 

Here two different kinds of commodities (in our example 
the linen and the coat), evidently play two different parts. The 
linen expresses its value in the coat; the coat serves as the mate- 
rial in which that value is expressed. The former plays an active, 
the latter a passive, part. The value of the linen is represented as 
relative value, or appears in relative form. The coat officiates as 
equivalent, or appears in equivalent form. 

The relative form and the equivalent form are two intimately 
connected, mutually dependent and inseparable elements of the 
expression of value; but, at the same time, are mutually exclusive, 
antagonistic extremes — i.e., poles of the same expression. They are 
allotted respectively to the two different commodities brought into 
relation by that expression. It is not possible to express the value 
of linen in linen. 20 yards of linen =20 yards of linen is no ex- 
pression of value. On the contrary, such an equation merely says 
that 20 yards of linen are nothing else than 20 yards of linen, a 
definite quantity of the use-value linen. The value of the linen can 
therefore be expressed only relatively — i.e., in some other com- 
modity. The relative form of the value of the linen pre-supposes, 
therefore, the presence of some other commodity— here the coat- 
under the form of an equivalent. On the other hand, the commodity 
that figures as the equivaleni caunot at the same time assume the 


relative form. That second commodity is not the one whose value 
is expressed. Its function is merely to serve as the material in 
which the value of the first commodity is expressed. 

No doubt, the expression 20 yards of linen=l coat, or 20 
yards of linen are worth 1 coat, implies the opposite relation: 1 
coat =20 yards of linen, or 1 coat is worth 20 yards of linen. 
But, in that case, I must reverse the equation, in order to express 
the value of the coat relatively; and, so soon as I do that, the linen 
becomes the equivalent instead of the coat. A single commodity 
cannot, therefore, simultaneously assume, in the same expres- 
sion of value, both forms. The very polarity of these forms makes 
them mutually exclusive. 

Whether, then, a commodity assumes the relative form, or 
the opposite equivalent form, depends entirely upon its accidental 
position in the expression of value— that is, upon whether it is 
the commodity whose value is being expressed or the commod- 
ity in which value is being expressed. 

2. The Relative form of value 
(a.) The nature and import of this form 

In order to discover how the elementary expression of the value 
of a commodity lies hidden in the value-relation of two commodi- 
ties, we must, in the first place, consider the latter entirely apart 
from its quantitative aspect. The usual mode of procedure is gen- 
erally the reverse, and in the value-relation nothing is seen but 
the proportion between definite quantities of two different sorts of 
commodities that are considered equal to each other. It is apt to 
be forgotten that the magnitudes of different things can be com- 
pared quantitatively, only when those magnitudes are expressed 
in terms of the same unit. It is only as expressions of such a unit 
that they are of the same denomination, and therefore commensu- 
rable. l 

Whether 20 yards of linen =1 coat or =20 coats or=x coats— 
that is, whether a given quantity of linen is worth few or many 

i The few economists, amongst whom is S. Bailey, who have occupied 
themselves with the analysis of the form of value, have been unable to arrive 
at any result, first, because they confuse the form of value with value itseli; 
and second, because, under the coarse influence of the practical bourgeois, 
they exclusively give their attention to the quantitative aspect oi the ques- 
tion. "The command of quantity ... constitutes value." ("Money and its 
Vicissitudes." London, 1837, p. 11. By S. Bailey.) 


coats, every such statement implies that the linen and coats, as 
magnitudes of value, are expressions of the same unit, things of 
the same kind. Linen = coat is the basis of the equation. 

But the two commodities whose identity of quality is thus 
assumed, do not play the same part. It is only the value of the linen 
that is expressed. And how? By its reference to the coat as its 
equivalent, as something that can be exchanged for it. In this 
relation the coat is the mode of existence of value, is value em- 
bodied, for only as such is it the same as the linen. On the other 
hand, the linen's own value comes to the front, receives independ- 
ent expression, for it is only as being value that it is comparable 
with the coat as a thing of equal value, or exchangeable with 
the coat. To borrow an illustration from chemistry, butyric acid 
is a different substance from propyl formate. Yet both are made 
up of the same chemical substances, carbon (G), hydrogen (H), and 
oxygen (0), and that, too, in like proportions— namely, C 4 H 8 2 . 
If now we equate butyric acid to propyl formate, then, in the first 
place, propyl formate would be, in this relation, merely a form of 
existence of G 4 H 8 2 ; and in the second place, we should be stating 
that butyric acid also consists of C 4 H 8 2 . Therefore, by thus 
equating the two substances, expression would be given to their 
chemical composition, while their different physical forms would 
be neglected. 

If we say that, as values, commodities are mere congelations 
of human labour, we reduce them by our analysis, it is true, 
to the abstraction, value; but we ascribe to this value no form 
apart from their bodily form. It is otherwise in the value- 
relation of one commodity to another. Here, the one stands 
forth in its character of value by reason of its relation to the 

By making the coat the equivalent of the linen, we equate 
the labour embodied in the former to that in the latter. Now, 
it is true that the tailoring, which makes the coat, is concrete 
labour of a different sort from the weaving which makes the linen. 
But the act of equating it to the weaving, reduces the tailoring 
to that which is really equal in the two kinds of labour, to their 
common character of human labour. In this roundabout way, 
then, the fact is expressed, that weaving also, in so far as it weaves 
value, has nothing to distinguish it from tailoring, and, conse- 
quently, is abstract human labour. It is the expression of equiv- 
alence between different sorts of commodities that alone brings 
into relief the specific character of value-creating labour, and 
this it does by actually reducing the different varieties of labour 


embodied in the different kinds of commodities to their common 
quality of human labour in the abstract. 1 

There is, however, something else required beyond the ex- 
pression of the specific character of the labour of which the 
value of the linen consists. Human labour-power in motion, or 
human labour, creates value, but is not itself value. It becomes 
value only in its congealed state, when embodied in the form 
of some object. In order to express the value of the linen as a 
congelation of human labour, that value must be expressed 
as having objective existence, as being a something materially 
different from the linen itself, and yet a something common to 
the linen and all other commodities. The problem is already 

When occupying the position of equivalent in the equation 
of value, the coat ranks qualitatively as the equal of the linen, 
as something of the same kind, because it is value. In this position 
it is a thing in which we see nothing but value, or whose palpable 
bodily form represents value. Yet the coat itself, the body of the 
commodity, coat, is a mere use-value. A coat as such no more 
tells us it is value, than does the first piece of linen we take hold of. 
This shows that when placed in value-relation to the linen, the 
coat signifies more than when out of that relation, just as many a 
man strutting about in a gorgeous uniform counts for more than 
when in mufti. 

In the production of the coat, human labour-power, in the 
shape of tailoring, must have been actually expended. Human 
labour is therefore accumulated in it. In this aspect the coat is 
a depository of value, but though worn to a thread, it does not 
let this fact show through. And as equivalent of the linen in the 
value equation, it exists under this aspect alone, counts therefore 
as embodied value, as a body that is value. A, for instance, cannot 
be "your majesty" to B, unless at the same time majesty in B's 
eyes assumes the bodily form of A, and, what is more, with every 

1 The celebrated Franklin, one of the first economists, after Wm. 
Petty, who saw through the nature of value, says: "Trade in general being 
nothing else but the exchange of labour for labour, the value of all things 
is ... most justly measured by labour" ("The works of B. Franklin, &c," 
edited by Sparks. Boston, 1836, Vol. II., p. 267.) Franklin is unconscious 
that by estimating the value of everything in labour, he makes abstrac- 
tion from any difference in the sorts of labour exchanged, and thus reduces 
them all to equal human labour. But although ignorant of this, yet he says 
it. He speaks first of "the one labour," then of "the other labour," and finally 
of "labour " without further qualification, as the substance of the value of 


new father of the people, changes its features, hair, and many other 
things besides. 

Hence, in the value equation, in which the coat is the equiva- 
lent of the linen, the coat officiates as the form of value. The value 
of the commodity linen is expressed by the bodily form of the 
commodity coat, the value of one by the use-value of the other. 
As a use-value, the linen is something palpably different from 
the coat; as value, it is the same as the coat, and now has the ap- 
pearance of a coat. Thus the linen acquires a value-form different 
from its physical form. The fact that it is value, is made mani- 
fest by its equality with the coat, just as the sheep's nature of a 
Christian is shown in his resemblance to the Lamb of God. 

We see, then, all that our analysis of the value of commod- 
ities has already told us, is told us by the linen itself, so soon 
as it comes into communication with another commodity, the 
coat. Only it betrays its thoughts in that language with which 
alone it is familiar, the language of commodities. In order to tell 
us that its own value is created by labour in its abstract character 
of human labour, it says that the coat, in so far as it is worth as 
much as the linen, and therefore is value, consists of the same la- 
bour as the linen. In order to inform us that its sublime reality 
as value is not the same as its buckram body, it says that value 
has the appearance of a coat, and consequently that so far as the 
linen is value, it and the coat are as like as two peas. We may 
here remark, that the language of commodities has, besides Heb- 
rew, many other more or less correct dialects. The German "Wert- 
sein," to be worth, for instance, expresses in a less striking man- 
ner than the Romance verbs "valere," "valer," "valoir," that the 
equating of commodity B to commodity A, is commodity A's own 
mode of expressing its value. Paris vaut bien une messe. 

By means, therefore, of the value-relation expressed in our 
equation, the bodily form of commodity B becomes the value- 
form of commodity A, or the body of commodity B acts as a 
mirror to the value of commodity A. 1 By putting itself in rela- 
tion with commodity B, as value in propria persona, as the matter 
of which human labour is made up, the commodity A converts 

1 In a sort of way, it is with man as with commodities. Since he comes 
into the world neither with a looking glass in his hand, nor as a Fichtian 
philosopher, to whom "I am I" is sufficient, man first sees and recognises 
himself in other men. Peter only establishes his own identity as a man by 
first comparing himself with Paul as being of like kind. And thereby Paul, 
just as he stands in his Pauline personality, becomes to Peter the type of 
the genus homo. 


the value in use, B, into the substance in which to express its, 
A's, own value. The value of A, thus expressed in the use-value of 
B, has taken the form of relative value. 

(b.) QuantltatiTe determination of Relative value 

Every commodity, whose value it is intended to express, is a 
useful object of given quantity, as 15 bushels of corn, or 100 
lbs. of coffee. And a given quantity of any commodity contains a 
definite quantity of human labour. The value-form must therefore 
not only express value generally, but also value in definite quan- 
tity. Therefore, in the value-relation of commodity A to commodity 
B, of the linen to the coat, not only is the latter, as value in gen- 
eral, made the equal in quality of the linen, but a definite quantity 
of coat (1 coat) is made the equivalent of a definite quantity 
(20 yards) of linen. 

The equation, 20 yards of linen =1 coat, or 20 yards of linen 
are worth one coat, implies that the same quantity of value-sub- 
stance (congealed labour) is embodied in both; that the two com- 
modities have each cost the same amount of labour of the same 
quantity of labour-time. But the labour-time necessary for the 
production of 20 yards of linen or 1 coat varies with every change 
in the productiveness of weaving or tailoring. We have now to 
consider the influence of such changes on the quantitative aspect 
of the relative expression of value. 

I. Let the value of the linen vary, x that of the coat remaining 
constant. If, say in consequence of the exhaustion of flax-growing 
soil, the labour-time necessary for the production of the linen be 
doubled, the value of the linen will also be doubled. Instead of 
the equation, 20 yards of linen=l coat, we should have 20 yards 
of linen=2 coats, since 1 coat would now contain only half the 
labour-time embodied in 20 yards of linen. If, on the other hand, 
in consequence, say, of improved looms, this labour-time be re- 
duced by one-half, the value of the linen would fall by one-half. 
Consequently, we should have 20 yards of linen = l A coat. The 
relative value of commodity A, i.e., its value expressed in com- 
modity B, rises and falls directly as the value of A, the value of 
B being supposed constant. 

II. Let the value of the linen remain constant, while the value 
of the coat varies. If, under these circumstances, in consequence, 
for instance, of a poor crop of wool, the labour-time necessary 

1 Value is here, as occasionally in the preceding pages, used in sense 
of value determined as to quantity, or of magnitude of value. 


for the production of a coat becomes doubled, we have instead of 
20 yards of linen =1 coat, 20 yards of linen =^2 coat. If, on the 
other hand, the value of the coat sinks by one-half, then 20 yards 
of linen =2 coats. Hence, if the value of commodity A remain 
constant, its relative value expressed in commodity B rises and 
falls inversely as the value of B. 

If we compare the different cases in I. and II., we see that the 
same change of magnitude in relative value may arise from to- 
tally opposite causes. Thus, the equation, 20 yards of linen 
=1 coat, becomes 20 yards of linen=2 coats, either, because 
the value of the linen has doubled, or because the value of the 
coat has fallen by one-half; and it becomes 20 yards of linen 
= % coat, either, because the value of the linen has fallen by one- 
half, or because the value of the coat has doubled. 

III. Let the quantities of labour-time respectively neces- 
sary for the production of the linen and the coat vary simul- 
taneously in the same direction and in the same proportion. In 
this case 20 yards of linen continue equal to 1 coat, however 
much their values may have altered. Their change of value is 
seen as soon as they are compared with a third commodity, whose 
value has remained constant. If the values of all commodities 
rose or fell simultaneously, and in the same proportion, their 
relative values would remain unaltered. Their real change of value 
would appear from the diminished or increased quantity of com- 
modities produced in a given time. 

IV. The labour-time respectively necessary for the production 
of the linen and the coat, and therefore the value of these com- 
modities may simultaneously vary in the same direction, but at 
unequal rates, or in opposite directions, or in other ways. The 
effect of all these possible different variations, on the relative 
value of a commodity, may be deduced from the results of I., II., 
and III. 

Thus real changes in the magnitude of value are neither un- 
equivocally nor exhaustively reflected in their relative expression, 
that is, in the equation expressing the magnitude of relative 
value. The relative value of a commodity may vary, although its 
value remains constant. Its relative value may remain constant, 
although its value varies; and finally, simultaneous variations 
in the magnitude of value and in that of its relative expression 
by no means necessarily correspond in amount. * 

1 This incongruity between the magnitude ot value and its relative 
expression has, with customary ingenuity, been exploited by vulgar econ- 


3. The Equivalent form of value 

We have seen that commodity A (the linen), by expressing 
its value in the use-value of a commodity differing in kind (the 
coat), at the same time impresses upon the latter a specific form 
of value, namely that of the equivalent. The commodity linen 
manifests its quality of having a value by the fact that the coat, 
without having assumed a value-form different from its bodily 
form, is equated to the linen. The fact that the latter therefore 
has a value is expressed by saying that the coat is directly ex- 
changeable with it. Therefore, when we say that a commodity 
is in the equivalent form, we express the fact that it is directly ex- 
changeable with other commodities. 

When one commodity, such as a coat, serves as the equivalent 
of another, such as linen, and coats consequently acquire the 
characteristic property of being directly exchangeable with linen, 
we are far from knowing in what proportion the two are ex- 
changeable. The value of the linen being given in magnitude, that 
proportion depends on the value of the coat. Whether the coat 
serves as the equivalent and the linen as relative value, or the 
linen as the equivalent and the coat as relative value, the magni- 
tude of the coat's value is determined, independently of its value- 
form, by the labour-time necessary for its production. But when- 
ever the coat assumes in the equation of value, the position of 
equivalent, its value acquires no quantitative expression; on the 

omists. For example — "Once admit that A tails, because B, with which, 
it is exchanged, rises, while no less labour is bestowed in the mean-' 
time on A, and your general principle of value falls to the ground.... If he 
[Ricardo] allowed that when A rises in value relatively to B, B falls in value 
relatively to A, he cut away the ground on which he rested his grand propo- 
sition, that the value of a commodity is ever determined by the labour em- 
bodied in it; for if a change in the cost of A alters not only its own value in 
relation to B, for which it is exchanged, but also the value of B relatively 
to that of A, though no change has taken place in the quantity of labour to 
produce B, then not only the doctrine falls to the ground which asserts that 
the quantity of labour bestowed on an article regulates its value, but also 
that which affirms the cost of an article to regulate its value." (J Broadhurst: 
"Political Economy," London, 1842, pp. 11 and 14.) 

10 10 10 
Mr. Broadhurst might just as well say: consider the tractions-^, -^, j-^r, 

&c, the number 10 remains unchanged, and yet its proportional magnitude, 
its magnitude relatively to the numbers 20. 50, 100, &c, continually dimin- 
ishes. Therefore the great principle that the magnitude of a whole number, 
such as 10, is "regulated" by the number of times unity is contained in it, 
falls to the ground.— [The author explains in section 4 of this chapter, 
pp. 80-81, note 2, what he understands by "Vulgar Economy."—/?'. E.) 


contrary, the commodity coat now figures only as a definite 
quantity of some article. 

For instance, 40 yards of linen are worth — what? 2 coats. 
Because the commodity coat here plays the part of equivalent, 
because the use-value coat, as opposed to the linen, figures as an 
embodiment of value, therefore a definite number of coats suffices 
to express the definite quantity of value in the linen. Two coats 
may therefore express the quantity of value of 40 yards of linen, 
but they can never express the quantity of their own value. A 
superficial observation of this fact, namely, that in the equation 
of value, the equivalent figures exclusively as a simple quantity 
of some article, of some use-value, has misled Bailey, as also many 
others, both before and after him, into seeing, in the expression 
of value, merely a quantitative relation. The truth being, that 
when a commodity acts as equivalent, no quantitative determi- 
nation of its value is expressed. 

The first peculiarity that strikes us, in considering the form 
of the equivalent, is this: use-value becomes the form of manifes- 
tation, the phenomenal form of its opposite, value. 

The bodily form of the commodity becomes its value-form. 
But, mark well, that this quid pro quo exists in the case of any 
commodity B, only when some other commodity A enters into 
a value-relation with it, and then only within the limits of this 
relation. Since no commodity can stand in the relation of equiva- 
lent to itself, and thus turn its own bodily shape into the expres- 
sion of its own value, every commodity is compelled to choose 
some other commodity for its equivalent, and to accept the use- 
value, that is to say, the bodily shape of that other commodity as 
the form of its own value. 

One of the measures that we apply to commodities as material 
substances, as use-values, will serve to illustrate this point. A 
sugar-loaf being a body, is heavy, and therefore has weight: 
but we can neither see nor touch this weight. We then take various 
pieces of iron, whose weight has been determined beforehand. 
The iron, as iron, is no more the form of manifestation of weight, 
than is the sugar-loaf. Nevertheless, in order to express the sugar- 
loaf as so much weight, we put it into a weight-relation with the 
iron. In this relation, the iron officiates as a body representing 
nothing but weight. A certain quantity of iron therefore serves as 
the measure of the weight of the sugar, and represents, in relation 
to the sugar-loaf, weight embodied, the form of manifestation of 
weight. This part is played by the iron only within this relation, 
into which the sugar or any other body, whose weight has to be 


determined, enters with the iron. Were they not both heavy, they 
could not enter into this relation, and the one could therefore not 
serve as the expression of the weight of the other. When we throw 
both into the scales, we see in reality, that as weight they are both 
the same, and that, therefore, when taken in proper proportions, 
they have the same weight. Just as the substance iron, as a measure 
of weight, represents in relation to the sugar-loaf weight alone, so, 
in our expression of value, the material object, coat, in relation 
to the linen, represents value alone. 

Here, however, the analogy ceases. The iron, in the expres- 
sion of the weight of the sugar-loaf, represents a natural property 
common to both bodies, namely their weight; but the coat, in the 
expression of value of the linen, represents a non-natural property 
of both, something purely social, namely, their value. 

Since the relative form of value of a commodity — the linen, 
for example — expresses the value of that commodity, as being 
something wholly different from its substance and properties, as 
being, for instance, coat-like, we see that this expression itself 
indicates that some social relation lies at the bottom of it. With 
the equivalent form it is just the contrary. The very essence of 
this form is that the material commodity itself — the coat — just 
as it is, expresses value, and is endowed with the form of value 
by Nature itself. Of course this holds good only so long as the 
value-relation exists, in which the coat stands in the position of 
equivalent to the linen. x Since, however, the properties of a thing 
are not the result of its relations to other things, but only manifest 
themselves in such relations, the coat seems to be endowed with 
its equivalent form, its property of being directly exchangeable, 
just as much by Nature as it is endowed with the property of 
being heavy, or the capacity to keep us warm. Hence the enigmat- 
ical character of the equivalent form which escapes the notice 
of the bourgeois political economist, until this form, completely 
developed, confronts him in the shape of money. He then seeks 
to explain away the mystical character of gold and silver, by sub- 
stituting for them less dazzling commodities, and by reciting, 
with ever renewed satisfaction, the catalogue of all possible com- 
modities which at one time or another have played the part of 
equivalent. He has not the least suspicion that the most simple 

1 Such expressions of relations in general, called by Hegel reflex-cate- 
sories, form a very curious class. For instance, one man is king only be- 
cause other men stand in the relation of subjects to him. They, on the con 
trary, imagine that they are subjects because he is king. 


expression of value, such as 20 yds. of linen =1 coat, already pro- 
pounds the riddle of the equivalent form for our solution. 

The body of the commodity that serves as the equivalent, 
figures as the materialisation of human labour in the abstract, 
and is at the same time the product of some specifically useful 
concrete labour. This concrete labour becomes, therefore, the 
medium for expressing abstract human labour. If on the one hand 
the coat ranks as nothing but the embodiment of abstract human 
labour, so, on the other hand, the tailoring which is actually 
embodied in it, counts as nothing but the form under which that 
abstract labour is realised. In the expression of value of the linen, 
the utility of the tailoring consists, not in making clothes, but 
in making an object, which we at once recognise to be Value, and 
therefore to be a congelation of labour, but of labour indistin- 
guishable from that realised in the value of the linen. In order to 
act as such a mirror of value, the labour of tailoring must reflect 
nothing besides its own abstract quality of being human labour 

In tailoring, as well as in weaving, human labour-power is 
expended. Both, therefore, possess the general property of being 
human labour, and may, therefore, in certain cases, such as in 
the production of value, have to be considered under this aspect 
alone. There is nothing mysterious in this. But in the expression 
of value there is a complete turn of the tables. For instance, how 
is the fact to be expressed that weaving creates the value of the 
linen, not by virtue of being weaving, as such, but by reason of 
its general property of being human labour? Simply by opposing 
to weaving that other particular form of concrete labour (in this 
instance tailoring), which produces the equivalent of the product 
of weaving. Just as the coat in its bodily form became a direct 
expression of value, so now does tailoring, a concrete form of 
labour, appear as the direct and palpable embodiment of human 
labour generally. 

Hence, the second peculiarity of the equivalent form is, that 
concrete labour becomes the form under which its opposite, ab- 
stract human labour, manifests itself. 

But because this concrete labour, tailoring in our case, ranks 
as, and is directly identified with, undifferentiated human la- 
bour, it also ranks as identical with any other sort of labour, and 
therefore with that embodied in the linen. Consequently, al- 
though, like all other commodity-producing labour, it is the labour 
of private individuals, yet, at the same time, it ranks as labour 
directly social in its character. This is the reason why it results 


in a product directly exchangeable with other commodities. We 
have then a third peculiarity of the equivalent form, namely, 
that the labour of private individuals takes the form of its oppo- 
site, labour directly social in its form. 

The two latter peculiarities of the equivalent form will 
become more intelligible if we go back to the great thinker who 
was the first to analyse so many forms, whether of thought, society, 
or Nature, and amongst them also the form of value. I mean Aris- 

In the first place, he clearly enunciates that the money-form 
of commodities is only the further development of the simple 
form of value — i.e., of the expression of the value of one com- 
modity in some other commodity taken at random; for he says — 

5 beds=lhouse (xXfvai ttsvts avii oixizq,) 

is not to be distinguished from 

5 beds=so much money. 

(x'/.ivat ttsvts dvii — ojov at ttsvts xX(vat) 

He further sees that the value-relation which gives rise to 
this expression makes it necessary that the house should quali- 
tatively be made the equal of the bed, and that, without such 
an equalisation, these two clearly different things could not be 
compared with each other as commensurable quantities. "Ex- 
change," he says, "cannot take place without equality, and equal- 
ity not without commensurability" (out' igottj; jjtj obarfc aujAjAsipiac). 
Here, however, he comes to a stop, and gives up the further anal- 
ysis of the form of value. "It is, however, in reality, impossible 
(it; jjlsv gov akrfisia dSovaiov), that such unlike things can be com- 
mensurable"— i.e., qualitatively equal. Such an equalisation can 
only be something foreign to their real nature, consequently 
only "a makeshift for practical purposes." 

Aristotle therefore, himself, tells us, what barred the way to 
his further analysis; it was the absence of any concept of value. 
What is that equal something, that common substance, which 
admits of the value of the beds being expressed by a house? Such 
a thing, in truth, cannot exist, says Aristotle. And why not? 
Compared with the beds, the house does represent something 
equal to them, in so far as it represents what is really equal, both 
in the beds and the house. And that is — human labour. 

There was, however, an important fact which prevented 
Aristotle from seeing that, to attribute value to commodities, is 


merely a mode of expressing all labour as equal human labour, 
and consequently as labour of equal quality. Greek society was 
founded upon slavery, and had, therefore, for its natural basis, 
the inequality of men and of their labour-powers. The secret of 
the expression of value, namely, that all kinds of labour are equal 
and equivalent, because, and so far as they are human labour in 
general, cannot be deciphered, until the notion of human equality 
has already acquired the fixity of a popular prejudice. This, 
however, is possible only in a society in which the great mass of 
the produce of labour takes the form of commodities, in which, 
consequently, the dominant relation between man and man, 
is that of owners of commodities. The brilliancy of Aristotle's 
genius is shown by this alone, that he discovered, in the 
expression of the value of commodities, a relation of equality. 
The peculiar conditions of the society in which he lived, alone 
prevented him from discovering what, "in truth," was at the 
bottom of this equality. 

4. The Elementary form of value considered as a whole 

The elementary form of value of a commodity is contained 
in the equation, expressing its value-relation to another com- 
modity of a different kind, or in its exchange-relation to the same. 
The value of commodity A, is qualitatively expressed, by the 
fact that commodity B is directly exchangeable with it. Its 
value is quantitatively expressed by the fact, that a definite 
quantity of B is exchangeable with a definite quantity of A. In 
other words, the value of a commodity obtains independent 
and definite expression, by taking the form of exchange-value. 
When, at the beginning of this chapter, we said, in common par- 
lance, that a commodity is both a use-value and an exchange- 
value, we were, accurately speaking, wrong. A commodity is a 
use-value or object of utility, and a value. It manifests itself as 
this two-fold thing, that it is, as soon as its value assumes an 
independent form — viz., the form of exchange-value. It never 
assumes this form when isolated, but only when placed in a value 
or exchange relation with another commodity of a different kind. 
When once we know this, such a mode of expression does no harm; 
it simply serves as an abbreviation. 

Our analysis has shown, that the form or expression of the 
value of a commodity originates in the nature of value, and not 
that value and its magnitude originate in the mode of their ex- 
pression as exchange-value. This, however, is the delusion as well 


of the mercantilists and their recent revivers, Ferrier, Ganilh, l 
and others, as also of their antipodes, the modern bagmen of 
Free-trade, such as Bastiat. The mercantilists lay special stress on 
the qualitative aspect of the expression of value, and consequent- 
ly on the equivalent form of commodities, which attains its full 
perfection in money. The modern hawkers of Free-trade, who must 
get rid of their article at any price, on the other hand, lay most 
stress on the quantitative aspect of the relative form of value. 
For them there consequently exists neither value, nor magnitude of 
value, anywhere except in its expression by means of the exchange- 
relation of commodities, that is, in the daily list of prices current. 
Macleod, who has taken upon himself to dress up the confused 
ideas of Lombard Street in the most learned finery, is a successful 
cross between the superstitious mercantilists, and the enlightened 
Free-trade bagmen. 

A close scrutiny of the expression of the value of A in terms 
of B, contained in the equation expressing the value-relation of 
A to B, has shown us that, within that relation, the bodily form 
of A figures only as a use-value, the bodily form of B only as the 
form or aspect of value. The opposition or contrast existing inter- 
nally in each commodity between use-value and value, is, there- 
fore, made evident externally by two commodities being placed 
in such relation to each other, that the commodity whose value it 
is sought to express, figures directly as a mere use-value, while 
the commodity in which that value is to be expressed, figures di- 
rectly as mere exchange- value. Hence the elementary form of 
value of a commodity is the elementary form in which the contrast 
contained in that commodity, between use-value and value, 
becomes apparent. 

Every product of labour is, in all states of society, a use- 
value; but it is only at a definite historical epoch in a society's 
development that such a product becomes a commodity, viz., 
at the epoch when the labour spent on the production of a useful 
article becomes expressed as one of the objective qualities of 
that article, i.e., as its value. It therefore follows that the elemen- 
tary value-form is also the primitive form under which a product 
of labour appears historically as a commodity, and that the grad- 
ual transformation of such products into commodities, proceeds 
pari passu with the development of the value-form. 

1 F. L. A. Ferrier, sous-inspecteur des douanes, "Du gouvernement 
considere dans ses rapports avec le commerce," Paris, 1805; and Charles 
Ganilh, "Des Systemes d'Economie Politique," 2nd ed., Paris, 1821. 


We perceive, at first sight, the deficiencies of the elementary 
form of value: it is a mere germ, which must undergo a series of 
metamorphoses before it can ripen into the price-form. 

The expression of the value of commodity A in terms of any 
other commodity B, merely distinguishes the value from the 
use-value of A, and therefore places A merely in a relation of 
exchange with a single different commodity, B; but it is still 
far from expressing A's qualitative equality, and quantitative 
proportionality, to all commodities. To the elementary relative 
value-form of a commodity, there corresponds the single equiv- 
alent form of one other commodity. Thus, in the relative expres- 
sion of value of the linen, the coat assumes the form of equiva- 
lent, or of being directly exchangeable, only in relation to a single 
commodity, the linen. 

Nevertheless, the elementary form of value passes by an easy 
transition into a more complete form. It is true that by means 
of the elementary form, the value of a commodity A, becomes 
expressed in terms of one, and only one, other commodity. But 
that one may be a commodity of any kind, coat, iron, corn, or 
anything else. Therefore, according as A is placed in relation 
with one or the other, we get for one and the same commodity, 
different elementary expressions of value. * The number of such 
possible expressions is limited only by the number of the differ- 
ent kinds of commodities distinct from it. The isolated expres- 
sion of A's value, is therefore convertible into a series, prolonged 
to any length, of the different elementary expressions of that value. 

B. Total or Expanded form of value 

z Com. A=u Com. B or=v Com. G or=w Com. D or=x Com. 

E or=&c. 
(20 yards of linen =1 coat or =10 lbs. tea or =40 lbs. coffee or = 
1 quarter corn or =2 ounces gold or=y ton iron or =&c.) 

J . The Expanded Relative form of value 

The value of a single commodity, the linen, for example, is 
now expressed in terms of numberless other elements of the 
world of commodities. Every other commodity now becomes 

1 In Homer, tor instance, the value of an article is expressed in a se- 
ries oi different things. II. VII. 472-475. 



a mirror of the linen's value. 1 It is thus, that for the first time, 
this value shows itself in its true light as a congelation of un- 
differentiated human labour. For the labour that creates it, now 
stands expressly revealed, as labour that ranks equally with 
every other sort of human labour, no matter what its form, wheth- 
er tailoring, ploughing, mining, &c, and no matter, therefore, 
whether it is realised in coats, corn, iron, or gold. The linen, by 
virtue of the form of its value, now stands in a social relation, 
no longer with only one other kind of commodity, but with the 
whole world of commodities. As a commodity, it is a citizen of 
that world. At the same time, the interminable series of value 
equations implies, that as regards the value of a commodity, it 
is a matter of indifference under what particular form, or kind, 
of use-value it appears. 

In the first form, 20 yds. of linen =1 coat, it might, for ought 
that otherwise appears, be pure accident, that these two com- 
modities are exchangeable in definite quantities. In the second 
form, on the contrary, we perceive at once the background that 
determines, and is essentially different from, this accidental 
appearance. The value of the linen remains unaltered in mag- 
nitude, whether expressed in coats, coffee, or iron, or in number- 
less different commodities, the property of as many different own- 
ers. The accidental relation between two individual commodity- 
owners disappears. It becomes plain, that it is not the exchange 
of commodities which regulates the magnitude of their value; 
but, on the contrary, that it is the magnitude of their value which 
controls their exchange proportions. 

1 For this reason, we can speak of the coat-value of the linen when 
its value is expressed in coats, or of its corn-value when expressed in corn, 
and so on. Every such expression tells us, that what appears in the use-values, 
coat, corn, &c, is the value of the linen. "The value of any commodity de- 
noting its relation in exchange, we may speak of it as ... corn-value, cloth- 
value, according to the commodity with which it is compared; and hence 
there are a thousand different kinds of value, as many kinds of value as there 
are commodities in existence, and all are equally real and equally nomi- 
nal." ("A Critical Dissertation on the Nature, Measures and Causes of Value: 
chiefly in reference to the writings of Mr. Ricardo and his followers." By the 
author of "Essays on the Formation, &c, of Opinions." London, 1825, 
p. 39.) S. Bailey, the author of this anonymous work, a work which in its 
day created much stir in England, fancied that, by thus pointing out the 
various relative expressions of one and the same value, he had proved the 
impossibility of any determination of the. concept of value. However narrow 
his own views may have been, yet, that he laid his finger on some serious 
defects in the Ricardian Theory, is proved by the animosity with which he 
was attacked by Ricardo's followers. See the Westminster Review for example. 


2. The particular Equivalent form 

Each commodity, such as, coat, tea, corn, iron, &c, figures 
in the expression of value of the linen, as an equivalent, and, con- 
sequently, as a thing that is value. The bodily form of each of 
these commodities figures now as a particular equivalent form, one 
out of many. In the same way the manifold concrete useful kinds 
of labour, embodied in these different commodities, rank now 
as so many different forms of the realisation, or manifestation, 
of undifferentiated human labour. 

3. Defects of the Total or Expanded form of value 

In the first place, the relative expression of value is incomplete 
because the series representing it is interminable. The chain of 
which each equation of value is a link, is liable at any moment 
to be lengthened by each new kind of commodity that comes into 
existence and furnishes the material for a fresh expression of value. 
In the second place, it is a many-coloured mosaic of disparate and 
independent expressions of value. And lastly, if, as must be the case, 
the relative value of each commodity in turn, becomes expressed in 
this expanded form, we get for each of them a relative value- 
form, different in every case, and consisting of an interminable 
series of expressions of value. The defects of the expanded relative 
value-form are reflected in the corresponding equivalent form. 
Since the bodily form of each single commodity is one particular 
equivalent form amongst numberless others, we have, on the 
whole, nothing but fragmentary equivalent forms, each excluding 
the others. In the same way, also, the special, concrete, useful 
kind of labour embodied in each particular equivalent, is pre- 
sented only as a particular kind of labour, and therefore not as an 
exhaustive representative of human labour generally. The latter, 
indeed, gains adequate manifestation in the totality of its mani- 
fold, particular, concrete forms. But, in that case, its expression 
in an infinite series is ever incomplete and deficient in unity. 

The expanded relative value-form is, however, nothing but 
the sum of the elementary relative expressions or equations of the 
first kind, such as 

20 yards of linen=l coat 

20 yards of linen=10 lbs. of tea, etc. 

Each of these implies the corresponding inverted equation, 

1 coat =20 yards of linen 
10 lbs. of tea =20 yards of linen, etc. 


In fact, when a person exchanges his linen for many other 
commodities, and thus expresses its value in a series of other 
commodities, it necessarily follows, that the various owners of 
the latter exchange them for the linen, and consequently express 
the value of their various commodities in one and the same third 
commodity, the linen. If then, we reverse the series, 20 yards of 
linen =1 coat or =10 lbs. of tea, etc., that is to say, if "we give 
expression to the converse relation already implied in the series, 
we get, 

C. The General form of \a!ue 

1 coat 

10 lbs. of tea 

40 lbs. of coffee 

1 quarter of corn L =20 yards of linen 

2 ounces of gold 
*/ 2 a ton of iron 
x com. A., etc. J 

A The altered character of the form of value 

All commodities now express their value (1) in an elementary 
form, because in a single commodity; (2) with unity, because in 
one and the same commodity. This form of value is elementary 
and the same for all, therefore general. 

The forms A and B were fit only to express the value of a com- 
modity as something distinct from its use-value or material form. 

The first form, A, furnishes such equations as the following: — 
1 coat =20 yards of linen, 10 lbs. of tea =% a ton of iron. The value of 
the coat is equated to linen, that of the tea to iron. But to be 
equated to linen, and again to iron, is to be as different as are 
linen and iron. This form, it is plain, occurs practically only in the 
first beginning, when the products of labour are converted into 
commodities by accidental and occasional exchanges. 

The second form, B, distinguishes, in a more adequate manner 
than the first, the value of a commodity from its use-value; for 
the value of the coat is there placed in contrast under all possible 
shapes with the bodily form of the coat; it is equated to linen, to 
iron, to tea, in short, to everything else, only not to itself, the 
coat. On the other hand, any general expression of value common to 
all is directly excluded; for, in the equation of value of each com- 
modity, all other commodities now appear only under the form of 


equivalents. The expanded form of value comes into actual ex- 
istence for the first time so soon as a particular product of labour, 
such as cattle, is no longer exceptionally, but habitually, ex- 
changed for various other commodities. 

The third and lastly developed form expresses the values of 
the whole world of commodities in terms of a single commodity 
set apart for the purpose, namely, the linen, and thus represents 
to us their values by means of their equality with linen. The 
value of every commodity is now, by being equated to linen, 
not only differentiated from its own use-value, but from all other 
use-values generally, and is, by that very fact, expressed as that 
which is common to all commodities. By this form, commodities 
are, for the first time, effectively brought into relation with one 
another as values, or made to appear as exchange-values. 

The two earlier forms either express the value of each com- 
modity in terms of a single commodity of a different kind, or in 
a series of many such commodities. In both cases, it is, so to say, 
the special business of each single commodity to find an expression 
for its value, and this it does without the help of the others. 
These others, with respect to the former, play the passive parts 
of equivalents. The general form of value, C, results from the joint 
action of the whole world of commodities, and from that alone. A 
commodity can acquire a general expression of its value only by all 
other commodities, simultaneously with it, expressing their values 
in the same equivalent; and every new commodity must follow 
suit. It thus becomes evident that, since the existence of commodities 
as values is purely social, this social existence can be expressed 
by the totality of their social relations alone, and consequently 
that the form of their value must be a socially recognised form. 

All commodities being equated to linen now appear not only 
as qualitatively equal as values generally, but also as values 
whose magnitudes are capable of comparison. By expressing the 
magnitudes of their values in one and the same material, the linen, 
those magnitudes are also compared with each other. For instance, 
10 lbs. of tea =20 yards of linen, and 40 lbs. of coffee =20 yards 
of linen. Therefore, 10 lbs. of tea =40 lbs. of coffee. In other words, 
there is contained in 1 lb. of coffee only one-fourth as much sub- 
stance of value — labour — as is contained in 1 lb. of tea. 

The general form of relative value, embracing the whole 
world of commodities, converts the single commodity that is 
excluded from the rest, and made to play the part of equivalent — 
here the linen— into the universal equivalent. The bodily form 
of the linen is now the form assumed in common by the values 


of all commodities; it therefore becomes directly exchangeable 
with all and every of them. The substance linen becomes the vis- 
ible incarnation, the social chrysalis state of every kind of human 
labour. Weaving, which is the labour of certain private individ- 
uals producing a particular article, linen, acquires in consequence 
a social character, the character of equality with all other kinds 
of labour. The innumerable equations of which the general form 
of value is composed, equate in turn the labour embodied in the 
linen to that embodied in every other commodity, and they thus 
convert weaving into the general form of manifestation of undiffer- 
entiated human labour. In this manner the labour realised in the 
values of commodities is presented not only under its negative 
aspect, under which abstraction is made from every concrete 
form and useful property of actual work, but its own positive 
nature is made to reveal itself expressly. The general value-form 
is the reduction of all kinds of actual labour to their common 
character of being human labour generally, of being the expendi- 
ture of human labour-power. 

The general value-form, which represents all products of 
labour as mere congelations of undifferentiated human labour, 
shows by its very structure that it is the social resume of the 
world of commodities. That form consequently makes it indispu- 
tably evident that in the world of commodities the character 
possessed by all labour of being human labour constitutes its 
specific social character. 

2. The interdependent development of the Relative form 
of value, and of the Equivalent form 

The degree of development of the relative form of value 
corresponds to that of the equivalent form. But we must bear 
in. mind that the development of the latter is only the expres- 
sion and result of the development of the former. 

The primary or isolated relative form of value of one com- 
modity converts some other commodity into an isolated equivalent. 
The expanded form of relative value, which is the expression of 
the value of one commodity in terms of all other commodities, 
endows those other commodities with the character of particu- 
lar equivalents differing in kind. And lastly, a particular kind 
of commodity acquires the character of universal equivalent, 
because all other commodities make it the material in which 
they uniformly express their value. 

The antagonism between the relative form of value and the 


equivalent form, the two poles of the value-form, is developed 
concurrently with that form itself. 

The first form, 20 yds. of linen =one coat, already contains 
this antagonism, without as yet fixing it. According as we read 
this equation forwards or backwards, the parts played by the 
linen and the coat are different. In the one case the relative 
value of the linen is expressed in the coat, in the other case the 
relative value of the coat is expressed in the linen. In this first 
form of value, therefore, it is difficult to grasp the polar contrast. 

Form B shows that only one single commodity at a time can 
completely expand its relative value, and that it acquires this 
expanded form only because, and in so far as, all other commodities 
are, with respect to it, equivalents. Here we cannot reverse the 
equation, as we can the equation 20 yds. of linen = 1 coat, 
without altering its general character, and converting it from 
the expanded form of value into the general form of value. 

Finally, the form C gives to the world of commodities a 
general social relative form of value, because, and in so far as, 
thereby all commodities, with the exception of one, are excluded 
from the equivalent form. A single commodity, the linen, appears 
therefore to have acquired the character of direct exchangeability 
with every other commodity because, and in so far as, this charac- 
ter is denied to every other commodity. L 

The commodity that figures as universal equivalent, is, on 
the other hand, excluded from the relative value-form. If the 
linen, or any other commodity serving as universal equivalent, 

1 It is by no means self-evident that this character of direct and uni- 
versal exchangeability is, so to speak, a polar one, and as intimately con- 
nected with its opposite pole, the absence of direct exchangeability, as 
the positive pole of the magnet is with its negative counterpart. It may 
therefore be imagined that all commodities can simultaneously have this 
character impressed upon them, just as it can be imagined that all Catholics 
can be popes together. It is, of course, highly desirable in the eyes of the 
petit bourgeois, for whom the production of commodities is the nee plus ultra 
of human freedom and individual independence, that the inconveniences 
resulting from this character of commodities not being directly exchange- 
able, should be removed. Proudhon's socialism is a working out of this Philis- 
tine Utopia, a form of socialism which, as I have elsewhere shown, does not 
possess even the merit of originality. Long before his time, the task was at- 
tempted with much better success by Gray, Bray, and others. But, for all 
that, wisdom of this kind flourishes even now in certain circles under the 
name of "science." Never has any school played more tricks with the word 
science, than that of Proudhon, for 

"wo Begriffe fehlen, 
Da stellt zur rechten Zeit ein Wort sich ein." 



were, at the same time, to share in the relative form of value, 
it would have to serve as its own equivalent. We should then 
have 20 yds. of linen = 20 yds. of linen; this tautology expresses 
neither value, nor magnitude of value. In order to express the 
relative value of the universal equivalent, we must rather reverse 
the form G. This equivalent has no relative form of value in com- 
mon with other commodities, but its value is relatively expressed 
by a never ending series of other commodities. Thus, the ex- 
panded form of relative value, or form B, now shows itself as the 
specific form of relative value for the equivalent commodity. 

3. Transition from the General form of value to the Money-form 

The universal equivalent form is a form of value in general. 
It can, therefore, be assumed by any commodity. On the other 
hand, if a commodity be found to have assumed the univer- 
sal equivalent form (form G), this is only because and in so far 
as it has been excluded from the rest of all other commodities 
as their equivalent, and that by their own act. And from the mo- 
ment that this exclusion becomes finally restricted to one particu- 
lar commodity, from that moment only, the general form of rel- 
ative value of the world of commodities obtains real consistence 
and general social validity. 

The particular commodity, with whose bodily form the equiv- 
alent form is thus socially identified, now becomes the money- 
commodity, or serves as money. It becomes the special social 
function of that commodity, and consequently its social monop- 
oly, to play within the world of commodities the part of the uni- 
versal equivalent. Amongst the commodities which, in form B, 
figure as particular equivalents of the linen, and, in form C, ex- 
press in common their relative values in linen, this foremost place 
has been attained by one in particular— namely, gold. If, then, 
in form G we replace the linen by gold, we get, 

B. The Money-form 

20 yards of linen = "| 

1 coat = 

10 lbs. of tea = ] 

40 lbs. of coffee = [» 2 ounces of gold 

1 qr. of corn = I 
I / 1 a ton of iron = 

x commodity A = J 


In passing from form A to form B, and from the latter to 
form C, the changes are fundamental. On the other hand, there 
is no difference between forms G and D, except that, in the latter, 
gold has assumed the equivalent form in the place of linen. Gold 
is in form D, what linen was in form C — the universal equiva- 
lent. The progress consists in this alone, that the character of 
direct and universal exchangeability— in other words, that 
the universal equivalent form — has now, by social custom, be- 
come finally identified with the substance, gold. 

Gold is now money with reference to all other commodities 
only because it was previously, with reference to them, a simple 
commodity. Like all other commodities, it was also capable of 
serving as an equivalent, either as simple equivalent in isolated 
exchanges, or as particular equivalent by the side of others. 
Gradually it began to serve, within varying limits, as universal 
equivalent. So soon as it monopolises this position in the expres- 
sion of value for the world of commodities, it becomes the money 
commodity, and then, and not till then, does form D become dis- 
tinct from form C, and the general form of value become changed 
into the money-form. 

The elementary expression of the relative value of a single 
commodity, such as linen, in terms of the commodity, such as 
gold, that plays the part of money, is the price-form of that com- 
modity. The price-form of the linen is therefore 

20 yards of linen =2 ounces of gold, or, if 2 ounces of gold when 
coined are £2, 20 yards of linen =£2. 

The difficulty in forming a concept of the money-form, con- 
sists in clearly comprehending the universal equivalent form, 
and as a necessary corollary, the general form of value, form G. 
The latter is deducible from form B, the expanded form of value, 
the essential component element of which, we saw, is form A, 
20 yards of linen =1 coat or x commodity A =y commodity B. 
The simple commodity-form is therefore the germ of the money- 



A commodity appears, at first sight, a very trivial thing, and 
easily understood. Its analysis shows that it is, in reality, a 
very queer thing, abounding in metaphysical subtleties and 
theological niceties. So far as it is a value in use, there is nothing 
mysterious about it, whether we consider it from the point of 
view that by its properties it is capable of satisfying human wants, 
or from the point that those properties are the product of human 
labour. It is as clear as noon-day, that man, by his industry, 
changes the forms of the materials furnished by Nature, in such 
a way as to make them useful to him. The form of wood, for 
instance, is altered, by making a table out of it. Yet, for all that, 
the table continues to be that common, every-day thing, wood. 
But, so soon as it steps forth as a commodity, it is changed into 
something transcendent. It not only stands with its feet on the 
ground, but, in relation to all other commodities, it stands on 
its head, and evolves out of its wooden brain grotesque ideas, 
far more wonderful than "table-turning" ever was. 

The mystical character of commodities does not originate, 
therefore, in their use-value. Just as little does it proceed from 
the nature of the determining factors of value. For, in the first 
place, however varied the useful kinds of labour, or productive 
activities, may be, it is a physiological fact, that they are func- 
tions of the human organism, and that each such function, what- 
ever may be its nature or form, is essentially the expenditure of 
human brain, nerves, muscles, &c. Secondly, with regard to that 
which forms the ground-work for the quantitative determination 
of value, namely, the duration of that expenditure, or the quantity 
of labour, it is quite clear that there is a palpable difference 
between its quantity and quality. In all states of society, the 
labour-time that it costs to produce the means of subsistence, 
must necessarily be an object of interest to mankind, though not 
of equal interest in different stages of development. 1 And lastly, 
from the moment that men in any way work for one another, their 
labour assumes a social form. 

Whence, then, arises the enigmatical character of the product 
of labour, so soon as it assumes the form of commodities? Clearly 

1 Among the ancient Germans the unit for measuring land was what 
could be harvested in a day, and was called Tagwerk, Tagwanne (jurnale, or 
terra jurnalis, or diornalis), Mannsmaad, &c (See G. L. von Maurer, "Ein- 
leitung zur Geschichte der Mark—, &c. Verfassung," Munchen, 1854, 
p. 129 sq.) 


from this form itself. The equality of all sorts of human labour 
is expressed objectively by their products all being equally val- 
ues; the measure of the expenditure of labour-power by the du- 
ration of that expenditure, takes the form of the quantity of value 
of the products of labour; and finally, the mutual relations of 
the producers, within which the social character of their labour 
affirms itself, take the form of a social relation between the prod- 

A commodity is therefore a mysterious thing, simply because 
in it the social character of men's labour appears to them as an 
objective character stamped upon the product of that labour: 
because the relation of the producers to the sum total of their 
own labour is presented to them as a social relation, existing 
not between themselves, but between the products of their labour. 
This is the reason why the products of labour become commodities, 
social things whose qualities are at the same time perceptible and 
imperceptible by the senses. In the same way the light from an 
object is perceived by us not as the subjective excitation of our 
optic nerve, but as the objective form of something outside the 
eye itself. But, in the act of seeing, there is at all events, an actual 
passage of light from one thing to another, from the external 
object to the eye. There is a physical relation between physical 
things. But it is different with commodities. There, the existence 
of the things qua commodities, and the value-relation between 
the products of labour which stamps them as commodities, have 
absolutely no connexion with their physical properties and with 
the material relations arising therefrom. There it is a definite 
social relation between men, that assumes, in their eyes, the 
fantastic form of a relation between things. In order, therefore, 
to find an analogy, we must have recourse to the mist-enveloped 
regions of the religious world. In that world the productions of 
the human brain appear as independent beings endowed with 
life, and entering into relation both with one another and the 
human race. So it is in the world of commodities with the products 
of men's hands. This I call the Fetishism which attaches itself 
to the products of labour, so soon as they are produced as commod- 
ities, and which is therefore inseparable from the production of 

This Fetishism of commodities has its origin, as the foregoing 
analysis has already shown, in the peculiar social character 
of the labour that produces them. 

As a general rule, articles of utility become commodities, only 
because they are products of the labour of private individuals 


or groups of individuals who carry on their work independently 
of each other. The sum total of the labour of all these private in- 
dividuals forms the aggregate labour of society. Since the producers' 
do not come into social contact with each other until they exchange 
their products, the specific social character of each producer's 
labour does not show itself except in the act of exchange. In other 
words, the labour of the individual asserts itself as a part of the 
labour of society, only by means of the relations which the act of 
exchange establishes directly between the products, and indirect- 
ly, through them, between the producers. To the latter, there- 
fore, the relations connecting the labour of one individual with 
that of the rest appear, not as direct social relations between 
individuals at work, but as what they really are, material rela- 
tions between persons and social relations between things. It is 
only by being exchanged that the products of labour acquire, 
as values, one uniform social status, distinct from their varied 
forms of existence as objects of utility. This division of a prod- 
uct into a useful thing and a value becomes practically important, 
only when exchange has acquired such an extension that useful 
articles are produced for the purpose of being exchanged, and 
their character as values has therefore to be taken into account, 
beforehand, during production. From this moment the labour 
of the individual producer acquires socially a two-fold character. 
On the one hand, it must, as a definite useful kind of labour, 
satisfy a definite social want, and thus hold its place as part 
and parcel of the collective labour of all, as a branch of a social 
division of labour that has sprung up spontaneously. On the 
other hand, it can satisfy the manifold wants of the individual 
producer himself, only in so far as the mutual exchangeability 
of all kinds of useful private labour is an established social fact, 
and therefore the private useful labour of each producer ranks 
on an equality with that of all others. The equalisation of the 
most different kinds of labour can be the result only of an abstrac- 
tion from their inequalities, or of reducing them to their common 
denominator, viz., expenditure of human labour-power or human 
labour in the abstract. The two-fold social character of the la- 
bour of the individual appears to him, when reflected in his brain, 
only under those forms which are impressed upon that labour in 
every-day practice by the exchange of products. In this way, the 
character that his own labour possesses of being socially useful 
takes the form of the condition, that the product must be not 
only useful, but useful for others, and the social character that 
his particular labour has of being the equal of all other particular 


kinds of labour, takes the form that all the physically different 
articles that are the products of labour, have one common quality, 
viz., that of having value. 

Hence, when we bring the products of our labour into rela- 
tion with each other as values, it is not because we see in these 
articles the material receptacles of homogeneous human labour. 
Quite the contrary: whenever, by an exchange, we equate as 
values our different products, by that very act, we also equate, 
as human labour, the different kinds of labour expended upon 
them. We are not aware of this, nevertheless we do it. 1 Value, 
therefore, does not stalk about with a label describing what it is. 
It is value, rather, that converts every product into a social hiero- 
glyphic. Later on, we try to decipher the hieroglyphic, to get behind 
the secret of our own social products; for to stamp an object of 
utility as a value, is just as much a social product as language. 
The recent scientific discovery, that the products of labour, so 
far as they are values, are but material expressions of the human 
labour spent in their production, marks, indeed, an epoch in the 
history of the development of the human race, but, by no means, 
dissipates the mist through which the social character of labour 
appears to us to be an objective character of the products them- 
selves. The fact, that in the particular form of production with 
which we are dealing, viz., the production of commodities, the spe- 
cific social character of private labour carried on independently, 
consists in the equality of every kind of that labour, by virtue 
of its being human labour, which character, therefore, assumes 
in the product the form of value — this fact appears to the produc- 
ers, notwithstanding the discovery above referred to, to be just 
as real and final, as the fact, that, after the discovery by science 
of the component gases of air, the atmosphere itself remained 

What, first of all, practically concerns producers when they 
make an exchange, is the question, how much of some other 
product they get for their own? in what proportions the products 
are exchangeable? When these proportions have, by custom, at- 
tained a certain stability, they appear to result from the nature of 
the products, so that, for instance, one ton of iron and two ounces 
of gold appear as naturally to be of equal value as a pound of 

1 When, therefore, Galiani says: Value is a relation between per- 
sons — "La Ricchezza e una ragione tra due persone," — he ought to have 
added: a relation between persons expressed as a relation between things. 
(Galiani: Delia Moneta, p 221, V III of Custodi's collection of "Scrittori 
Classici Italiani di Economia Politica." Parte Moderna, Milano, 1803.) 


gold and a pound of iron in spite of their different physical and 
chemical qualities appear to be of equal weight. The character of 
having value, when once impressed upon products, obtains fixity- 
only by reason of their acting and re-acting upon each other as 
quantities of value. These quantities vary continually, independ- 
ently of the will, foresight and action of the producers. To 
them, their own social action takes the form of tjie action of objects, 
which rule the producers instead of being ruled by them. It re- 
quires a fully developed production of commodities before, from 
accumulated experience alone, the scientific conviction springs up, 
that all the different kinds of private labour, which are carried 
on independently of each other, and yet as spontaneously devel- 
oped branches of the social division of labour, are continually 
being reduced to the quantitative proportions in which society 
requires them. And why? Because, in the midst of all the acci- 
dental and ever fluctuating exchange-relations between the prod- 
ucts, the labour-time socially necessary for their production 
forcibly asserts itself like an over-riding law of Nature. The law 
of gravity thus asserts itself when a house falls about our ears. 1 
The determination of the magnitude of value by labour-time is 
therefore a secret, hidden under the apparent fluctuations in the 
relative values of commodities. Its discovery, while removing 
all appearance of mere accidentality from the determination of 
the magnitude of the values of products, yet in no way alters the 
mode in which that determination takes place. 

Man's reflections on the forms of social life, and consequently, 
also, his scientific analysis of those forms, take a course directly 
opposite to that of their actual historical development. He begins, 
post festum, with the results of the process of development 
ready to hand before him. The characters that stamp products 
as commodities, and whose establishment is a necessary pre- 
liminary to the circulation of commodities, have already acquired 
the stability of natural, self-understood forms of social life, 
before man seeks to decipher, not their historical character, for 
in his eyes they are immutable, but their meaning. Consequently 
it was the analysis of the prices of commodities that alone led 
to the determination of the magnitude of value, and it was the 
common expression of all commodities in money that alone led 

1 "What are we to think of a law that asserts itself only by periodical 
revolutions? It is just nothing but a law of Nature, founded on the want of 
knowledge of those whose action is the subject of it." (Friedrich Engels: 
"Umrisse zu einer Kritik der Nationalokonomie," in the "Deutsch-Franzosische 
Jahrbucher," edited by Arnold Ruge and Karl Marx. Paris, 1844.) 


to the establishment of their characters as values. It is, however, 
just this ultimate money-form of the world of commodities that 
actually conceals, instead of disclosing, the social character of 
private labour, and the social relations between the individual 
producers. When I state that coats or boots stand in a relation 
to linen, because it is the universal incarnation of abstract human 
labour, the absurdity of the statement is self-evident. Nevertheless, 
when the producers of coats and boots compare those articles with 
linen, or, what is the same thing, with gold or silver, as the uni- 
versal equivalent, they express the relation between their own 
private labour and the collective labour of society in the same 
absurd form. 

The categories of bourgeois economy consist of such like 
forms. They are forms of thought expressing with social validity 
the conditions and relations of a definite, historically determined 
mode of production, viz., the production of commodities. The 
whole mystery of commodities, all the magic and necromancy 
that surrounds the products of labour as long as they take the 
form of commodities, vanishes therefore, so soon as we come to 
other forms of production. 

Since Robinson Crusoe's experiences are a favourite theme 
with political economists, * let us take a look at him on his island. 
Moderate though he be, yet some few wants he has to satisfy, and 
must therefore do a little useful work of various sorts, such as 
making tools and furniture, taming goats, fishing and hunting. 
Of his prayers and the like we take no account, since they are a 
source of pleasure to him, and he looks upon them as so much 
recreation. In spite of the variety of his work, he knows that his 
labour, whatever its form, is but the activity of one and the 
same Robinson, and consequently, that it consists of nothing but 
different modes of human labour. Necessity itself compels him 
to apportion his time accurately between his different kinds of 
work. Whether one kind occupies a greater space in his general 
activity than another, depends on the difficulties, greater or less 
as the case may be, to be overcome in attaining the useful effect 

1 Even Ricardo has his stories a la Robinson. "He makes the primitive 
hunter and the primitive fizher straightway, as owners of commodities, ex- 
change fish and game in the proportion in which labour-time is incorporated 
in these exchange-values. On this occasion he commits the anachronism of 
making these men apply to the calculation, so far as their implements have 
to be taken into account, the annuity tables in current use on the London 
Exchange in the year 1817. 'The parallelograms of Mr. Owen' appear to be 
the only form of society, besides the bourgeois form, with which he was ac- 
quainted." (Karl Marx: "Zur Kritik, &c," pp. 38, 39.) 


aimed at. This our friend Robinson soon learns by experience, 
and having rescued a watch, ledger, and pen and ink from the 
wreck, commences, like a true-born Briton, to keep a set of books. 
His stock-book contains a list of the objects of utility that belong 
to him, of the operations necessary for their production; and last- 
ly, of the labour-time that definite quantities of those objects 
have, on an average, cost him. All the relations between Robinson 
and the objects that form this wealth of his own creation, are 
here so simple and clear as to be intelligible without exertion, 
even to Mr. Sedley Taylor. And yet those relations contain all 
that is essential to the determination of value. 

Let us now transport ourselves from Robinson's island bathed 
in light to the European middle ages shrouded in darkness. Here, 
instead of the independent man, we find everyone dependent, serfs 
and lords, vassals and suzerains, laymen and clergy. Personal 
dependence here characterises the social relations of production 
just as much as it does the other spheres of life organised on the 
basis of that production. But for the very reason that personal 
dependence forms the ground-work of society, there is no necessity 
for labour and its products to assume a fantastic form different 
from their reality. They take the shape, in the transactions of 
society, of services in kind and payments in kind. Here the par- 
ticular and natural form of labour, and not, as in a society based 
on production of commodities, its general abstract form is the 
immediate social form of labour. Compulsory labour is just as 
properly measured by time, as commodity-producing labour; 
but every serf knows that what he expends in the service of his 
lord, is a definite quantity of his own personal labour-power. 
The tithe to be rendered to the priest is more matter of fact than 
his blessing. No matter, then, what we may think of the parts 
played by the different classes of people themselves in this soci- 
ety, the social relations between individuals in the performance 
of their labour, appear at all events as their own mutual personal 
relations, and are not disguised under the shape of social relations 
between the products of labour. 

For an example of labour in common or directly associated 
labour, we have no occasion to go back to that spontaneously 
developed form which we find on the threshold of the history 
of all civilised races. 1 We have one close at hand in the patriae 

1 "A ridiculous presumption has latterly got abroad that common prop- 
erty in its primitive form is specifically a Slavonian, or even exclusively 
Russian form It is the primitive form that we can prove to have existed 
amongst Romans, Teutons, and Celts, and even to this day we iind numerous 


chal industries of a peasant family, that produces corn, cattle, 
yarn, linen, and clothing for home use. These different articles 
are, as regards the family, so many products of its labour, but as 
between themselves, they are not commodities. The different kinds 
of labour, such as tillage, cattle tending, spinning, weaving and 
making clothes, which result in the various products, are in them- 
selves, and such as they are, direct social functions, because func- 
tions of the family, which, just as much as a society based on 
the production of commodities, possesses a spontaneously devel- 
oped system of division of labour. The distribution of the work 
within the family, and the regulation of the labour-time of the 
several members, depend as well upon differences of age and sex 
as upon natural conditions varying with the seasons. The labour- 
power of each individual, by its very nature, operates in this case 
merely as a definite portion of the whole labour-power of the fam- 
ily, and therefore, the measure of the expenditure of individual 
labour-power by its duration, appears here by its very nature as a 
social character of their labour. 

Let us now picture to ourselves, by way of change, a commu- 
nity of free individuals, earning on their work with the means 
of production in common, in which the labour-power of all the 
different individuals is consciously applied as the combined la- 
bour-power of the community. All the characteristics of Robin- 
son's labour are here repeated, but with this difference, that they 
are social, instead of individual. Everything produced by him 
was exclusively the result of his own personal labour, and therefore 
simply an object of use for himself. The total product of our 
community is a social product. One portion serves as fresh means 
of production and remains social. But another portion is consumed 
by the members as means of subsistence. A distribution of this 
portion amongst them is consequently necessary. The mode of this 
distribution will vary with the productive organisation of the 
community, and the degree of historical development attained by 
the producers. We will assume, but merely for the sake of a paral- 
lel with the production of commodities, that the share of each 
individual producer in the means of subsistence is determined 

examples, ruins though they be, in India. A more exhaustive study of Asiatic, 
and especially of Indian forms of common property, would show how from 
the different forms of primitive common property, different forms of its 
dissolution have been developed. Thus, for instance, the various original 
types of Roman and Teutonic private property are deducible from differ- 
ent forms of Indian common property." (Karl Marx, "Zur Kritik, &c," 
P- 10.) 


by his labour-time. Labour-time would, in that case, play a double 
part. Its apportionment in accordance with a definite social plan 
maintains the proper proportion between the different kinds of 
work to be done and the various wants of the community. On the 
other hand, it also serves as a measure of the portion of the common 
labour borne by each individual, and of his share in the part of 
the total product destined for individual consumption. The social 
relations of the individual producers, with regard both to their 
labour and to its products, are in this case perfectly simple and 
intelligible, and that with regard not only to production but 
also to distribution. 

The religious world is but the reflex of the real world. And 
for a society based upon the production of commodities, in 
which the producers in general enter into social relations with 
one another by treating their products as commodities and values, 
whereby they reduce their individual private labour to the stand- 
ard of homogeneous human labour — for such a society, Chris- 
tianity with its cultus of abstract man, more especially in its 
bourgeois developments, Protestantism, Deism, &c, is the most 
fitting form of religion. In the ancient Asiatic and other ancient 
modes of production, we find that the conversion of products 
into commodities, and therefore the conversion of men into pro- 
ducers of commodities, holds a subordinate place, which, however, 
increases in importance as the primitive communities approach 
nearer and nearer to their dissolution. Trading nations, properly 
so called, exist in the ancient world only in its interstices, like 
the gods of Epicurus in the Intermundia, or like Jews in the pores 
of Polish society. Those ancient social organisms of production 
are, as compared with bourgeois society, extremely simple and 
transparent. But they are founded either on the immature devel- 
opment of man individually, who has not yet severed the um- 
bilical cord that unites him with his fellowmen in a primitive 
tribal community, or upon direct relations of subjection. They can 
arise and exist only when the development of the productive 
power of labour has not risen beyond a low stage, and when, 
therefore, the social relations within the sphere of material life, 
between man and man, and between man and Nature, are corre- 
spondingly narrow. This narrowness is reflected in the ancient 
worship of Nature, and in the other elements of the popular reli- 
gions. The religious reflex of the real world can, in any case, only 
then finally vanish, when the practical relations of every-day life 
offer to man none but perfectly intelligible and reasonable rela- 
tions with regard to his fellowmen and to Nature, 


The life-process of society, which is based on the process of 
material production, does not strip off its mystical veil until it 
is treated as production by freely associated men, and is con- 
sciously regulated by them in accordance with a settled plan. This, 
however, demands for society a certain material ground-work or 
set of conditions of existence which in their turn are the sponta- 
neous product of a long and painful process of development. 

Political Economy has indeed analysed, however incom- 
pletely, 1 value and its magnitude, and has discovered what lies 
beneath these forms. But it has never once asked the question 
why labour is represented by the value of its product and labour- 
time by the magnitude of that value. 2 These formulae, which 

1 The insufficiency of Ricardo's analysis of the magnitude of value, 
and his analysis is by far the best, will appear from the 3rd and 4th books 
of this work. As regards value in general, it is the weak point of the classi- 
cal school of Political Economy that it nowhere, expressly and with full 
consciousness, distinguishes between labour, as it appears in the value of 
a product and the same labour, as it appears in the use-value of that prod- 
uct. Of course the distinction is practically made, since this school treats 
labour, at one time under its quantitative aspect, at another under its qual- 
itative aspect. But it has not the least idea, that when the difference between 
various kinds of labour is treated as purely quantitative, their qualitative 
unity or equality, and therefore their reduction to abstract human labour, 
is implied. For instance, Ricardo declares that he agrees with Destutt de 
Tracy in this proposition: "As it is certain that our physical and moral facul- 
ties are alone our original riches, the employment of those faculties, labour 
of some kind, is our only original treasure, and it is always from this employ- 
ment that all those things are created, which we call riches.... It is certain, 
too, that all those things only represent the labour which has created them, 
and if they have a value, or even two distinct values, they can only derive 
them from that (the value) of the labour from which they emanate." (Ricar- 
do. "The Principles of Pol. Econ.," 3 Ed. Lond. 1821, p. 334.) We would here 
only point out, that Ricardo puts his own more profound interpretation 
upon the words of Destutt. What the latter really says is, that on the one 
hand all things which constitute wealth represent the labour that creates 
them, but that on the other hand, they acquire their "two different values" 
(use-value and exchange-value) from "the value of labour." He thus falls 
into the commonplace error of the vulgar economists, who assume the value 
of one commodity (in this case labour) in order to determine the values of 
the rest. But Ricardo reads him as if he had said, that labour (not the value 
of labour) is embodied both in use-value and exchange-value. Nevertheless, 
Ricardo himself pays so little attention to the two-fold character of the la- 
bour which has a two-fold embodiment, that he devotes the whole of his 
chapter on "Value and Riches, Their Distinctive Properties," to a laborious 
examination of the trivialities of a J. B. Say. And at the finish he is quite 
astonished to find that Destutt on the one hand agrees with him as to labour 
being the source of value, and on the other hand with J. B. Say as to the no- 
tion of value. 

2 It is one of the chief failings of classical economy that it has never 
succeeded, by means of its analysis of commodities, and, in particular, of 


bear it stamped upon them in unmistakeable letters that they 
belong to a state of society, in which the process of production 
has the mastery over man, instead of being controlled by him, 
such formulae appear to the bourgeois intellect to be as much a 
self-evident necessity imposed by Nature as productive labour 
itself. Hence forms of social production that preceded the bourgeois 
form, are treated by the bourgeoisie in much the same way as the 
Fathers of the Church treated pre-Christian religions. 1 

their value, in discovering that form under which value becomes exchange- 
value. Even Adam Smith and Ricardo, the best representatives of the school, 
treat the form of value as a thing of no importance, as having no connexion 
with the inherent nature of commodities. The reason for this is not solely 
because their attention is entirely absorbed in the analysis of the magnitude 
of value. It lies deeper. The value-form of the product of labour is not only 
the most abstract, but is also the most universal form, taken by the product 
in bourgeois production, and stamps that production as a particular species 
of social production, and thereby gives it its special historical character. 
If then we treat this mode of production as one eternally fixed by Nature 
for every state of society, we necessarily overlook that which is the differ- 
entia specifica of the value-form, and consequently of the commodity-form, 
and of its further developments, money-form, capital-form, &c. We conse- 
quently find that economists, who are thoroughly agreed as to labour-time 
being the measure of the magnitude of value, have the most strange and 
contradictory ideas of money, the perfected form of the general equivalent. 
This is seen in a striking manner when they treat of banking, where the com- 
monplace definitions of money will no longer hold water. This led to the rise 
of a restored mercantile system (Ganilh, &c), which sees in value nothing 
but a social form, or rather the unsubstantial ghost of that form. Once for 
all I may here state, that by classical Political Economy, I understand that 
economy 'which, since the time of W. Petty, has investigated the real rela- 
tions of production in bourgeois society, in contradistinction to vulgar econ- 
omy, which deals with appearances only, ruminates without ceasing on the 
materials long since provided by scientific economy, and there seeks plausible 
explanations of the most obtrusive phenomena, for bourgeois daily use, but 
for the rest, confines itself to systematising in a pedantic way, and proclaiming 
for everlasting truths, the trite ideas held by the self-complacent bourgeoisie 
with regard to their own world, to them the best of all possible worlds. 

1 "Les economistes ont une singuliere maniere de proc6der. II n'y a pour 
eux que deux sortes d'institutions, celles de l'art et celles de la nature. Les 
institutions de la feodalite sont des institutions artificielles, celles de la bour- 
geoisie sont des institutions naturelles. lis ressemblent en ceci aux theologiens, 
qui eux aussi etablissent deux sortes de religions. Toute religion qui n'est pas 
la leur, est une invention des hommes, tandis que leur propre religion est une 
emanation de Dieu — Ainsi il y a eu de l'histoire, mais il n'y en a plus." (Karl 
Marx. Misere de la Philosophie. Reponse a la Philosophic de la Misere par 
M. Proudhon, 1847, p. 113.) Truly comical is M. Bastiat, who imagines that 
the ancient Greeks and Romans lived by plunder alone. But when people plun- 
der for centuries, there must always be something at hand fof them to seize, 
the objects of plunder must be continually reproduced. It would thus appear 
that even Greeks and Romans had some process of production, consequently, 


To what extent some economists are misled by the Fetishism 
inherent in commodities, or by the objective appearance of the 
social characteristics of labour, is shown, amongst other ways, 
by the dull and tedious quarrel over the part played by Nature 
in the formation of exchange-value. Since exchange-value is a 
definite social manner of expressing the amount of labour be- 
stowed upon an object, Nature has no more to do with it, than 
it has in fixing the course of exchange. 

The mode of production in which the product takes the 
form of a commodity, or is produced directly for exchange, is the 
most general and most embryonic form of bourgeois production. 
It therefore makes its appearance at an early date in history, 
though not in the same predominating and characteristic manner 
as now-a-days. Hence its Fetish character is comparatively easy 
to be seen through. But when we come to more concrete forms, 
even this appearance of simplicity vanishes. Whence arose the illu- 
sions of the monetary system? To it gold and silver, when serving 
as money, did not represent a social relation between producers, 
but were natural objects with strange social properties. And modern 
economy, which looks down with such disdain on the monetary 

an economy, which just as much constituted the material basis of their world, 
as bourgeois economy constitutes that of our modern world. Or perhaps 
Bastiat means, that a mode of production based on slavery is based on a 
system of plunder. In that case he treads on dangerous ground. If a giant 
thinker like Aristotle erred in his appreciation of slave labour, why should 
a dwarf economist like Bastiat he right in his appreciation of wage-labour? — 
I seize this opportunity of shortly answering an objection taken by a German 
paper in America, to my work, "Zur Kritik der Pol. Oekonomie, 1859." In 
the estimation of that paper, my view that each special mode of production 
and the social relations corresponding to it, in short, that the economic 
structure of society, is the real basis on which the juridical and political 
superstructure is raised, and to which definite social forms of thought cor- 
respond; that the mode of production determines the character of the 
social, political, and intellectual life generally, all this is very true for our 
own times, in which material interests preponderate, but not for the middle 
ages, in which Catholicism, nor for Athens and Rome, where politics, reigned 
supreme. In the first place it strikes one as an odd thing for any one to 
suppose that these well-worn phrases about the middle ages and the an- 
cient world are unknown to anyone else. This much, however, is clear, 
that the middle ages could not live on Catholicism, nor the ancient world 
on politics. On the contrary, it is the mode in which they gained a livelihood 
that explains why here politics, and there Catholicism, played the chief 
part. For the rest, it requires but a slight acquaintance with the history of 
the Roman republic, for example, to be aware that its secret history is the 
history of its landed property. On the other hand, Don Quixote long ago paid 
the penalty for wrongly imagining that knight errantry was compatible 
with all economic forms of society. 


system, does not its superstition come out as clear as noon-day, 
whenever it treats of capital? How long is it since economy dis- 
carded the physiocratic illusion, that rents grow out of the soil 
and not out of society? 

But not to anticipate, we will content ourselves with yet 
another example relating to the commodity-form. Gould com- 
modities themselves speak, they would say: Our use-value may 
be a thing that interests men. It is no part of us as objects. What, 
however, does belong to us as objects, is our value. Our natural 
intercourse as commodities proves it. In the eyes of each other 
we are nothing but exchange-values. Now listen how those com- 
modities speak through the mouth of the economist. "Value"— (i.e., 
exchange-value) "is a property of things, riches"— (i.e., 
use-value) "of man. Value, in this sense, necessarily implies 
exchanges, riches do not." * "Riches" (use-value) "are the attribute 
of men, value is the attribute of commodities. A man or a commu- 
nity is rich, a pearl or a diamond is valuable... A pearl or a dia- 
mond is valuable" as a pearl or diamond. 2 So far no chemist 
has ever discovered exchange-value either in a pearl or a diamond. 
The economic discoverers of this chemical element, who by-the- 
by lay special claim to critical acumen, find however that the 
use-value of objects belongs to them independently of their mate- 
rial properties, while their value, on the other hand, forms a 
part of them as objects. What confirms them in this view, is the 
peculiar circumstance that the use-value of objects is realised 
without exchange, by means of a direct relation between the 
objects and man, while, on the other hand, their value is real- 
ised only by exchange, that is, by means of a social process. 
W T ho fails here to call to mind our good friend, Dogberry, who 
informs neighbour Seacoal, that, "To be a well-favoured man 
is the gift of fortune; but reading and writing comes by Nature." 3 

1 "Observations on certain verbal disputes in Pol. Econ., particularly 
relating to value and to demand and supply." Lond., 1821, p. 16. 

2 S. Bailey, 1. c, p. 165. 

3 Tbe author of "Observations" and S. Bailey accuse Ricardo of con- 
verting exchange-value from something relative into something absolute. The 
opposite is the fact. He has explained the apparent relation between objects, 
such as diamonds and pearls, in which relation they appear as exchange-val- 
ues, and disclosed the true relation hidden behind the appearances, namely, 
their relation to each other as mere expressions of human labour. If the fol- 
lowers of Ricardo answer Bailey somewhat rudely, and by no means convinc- 
ingly, the reason is to be sought in this, that they were unable to find in 
Ricardo's own works any key to the hidden relations existing between value 
and its form, exchange-value. 



It is plain that commodities cannot go to market and make 
exchanges of their own account. We must, therefore, have recourse 
to their guardians, who are also their owners. Commodities are 
things, and therefore without power of resistance against man. 
If they are wanting in docility he can use force; in other 
words, he can take possession of them. 1 In order that these objects 
may enter into relation with each other as commodities, their 
guardians must place themselves in relation to one another, as 
persons whose will resides in those objects, and must behave in 
such a way that each does not appropriate the commodity of the 
other, and part with his own, except by means of an act done by 
mutual consent. They must, therefore, mutually recognise in each 
other the rights of private proprietors. This juridical relation, 
which thus expresses itself in a contract, whether such contract 
be part of a developed legal system or not, is a relation between 
two wills, and is but the reflex of the real economic relation 
between the two. It is this economic relation that determines 
the subject-matter comprised in each such juridical act. 2 The 

1 In the 12th century, so renowned tor its piety, they included amongst 
commodities some very delicate things. Thos a French poet of the period 
enumerates amongst the goods to be found in the market of Landit, not only 
clothing, shoes, leather, agricultural implements, &c, but also "femmes 
lolles de leur corps." 

2 Proudhon begins by taking his ideal of justice, of "justice eternelle," 
from the juridical relations that correspond to the production of commodi- 
ties: thereby, it may be noted, he proves, to the consolation of all good citi- 
zens, that the production of commodities is a form of production as everlasting 
as justice. Then he turns round and seeks to reform the actual production of 
commodities, and the actual legal system corresponding thereto, in accordance 
with this ideal. What opinion should we have of a chemist, who, instead 
of studying the actual laws of the molecular changes inthe composition and 
decomposition of matter, and on that foundation solving definite problems, 


persons exist for one another merely as representatives of, and, 
therefore, as owners of, commodities. In the course of our investi- 
gation we shall find, in general, that the characters who appear 
on the economic stage are but the personifications of the economic 
relations that exist between them. 

What chiefly distinguishes a commodity from its owner is the 
fact, that it looks upon every other commodity as but the form 
of appearance of its own value. A born leveller and a cynic, it is 
always ready to exchange not only soul, but body, with any and 
every other commodity, be the same more repulsive than Maritor- 
nes herself. The owner makes up for this lack in the commodity 
of a sense of the concrete, by his own five and more senses. His 
commodity possesses for himself no immediate use-value. Other- 
wise, he would not bring it to the market. It has use-value for 
others; but for himself its only direct use-value is that of being a 
depository of exchange-value, and, consequently, a means of 
exchange. 1 Therefore, he makes up his mind to part with it for com- 
modities whose value in use is of service to him. All commodities 
are non-use-values for their owners, and use-values for their non- 
owners. Consequently, they must all change hands. But this change 
of hands is what constitutes their exchange, and the latter puts 
them in relation with each other as values, and realises them as 
values. Hence commodities must be realised as values before they 
can be realised as use-values. 

On the other hand, they must show that they are use-values 
before they can be realised as values. For the labour spent upon 
them counts effectively, only in so far as it is spent in a form that 
is useful for others. Whether that labour is useful for others, 
and its product consequently capable of satisfying the wants of 
others, can be proved only by the act of exchange. 

Every owner of a commodity wishes to part with it in exchange 
only for those commodities whose use-value satisfies some want 

claimed to regulate the composition and decomposition ol matter by means of 
the "eternal ideas," of "naturalite" and "aft'inite"? Do we really know any 
more about "usury," when we say it contradicts "justice eternelle," "equite 
eternelle," "mutuality eternelle," and other "verites eternelles" than the fa- 
thers of the church did when they said it was incompatible with "grace eter- 
nelle," "foi eternelle," and "la volonte eternelle de Dieu"? 

1 "For two-fold is the use of every object.... The one is peculiar to the 
object as such, the other is not, as a sandal which may be worn, and is also 
exchangeable. Both are uses of the sandal, for even he who exchanges the 
sandal for the money or food he is in want of, makes use of the sandal as 
a sandal. But not in its natural way. For it has not been made for the sake 
of being exchanged." (Aristoteles, "De Rep.," 1. i. c. 9.) 


of his. Looked at in this way, exchange is for him simply a private 
transaction. On the other hand, he desires to realise the value of 
his commodity, to convert it into any other suitable commodity 
of equal value, irrespective of whether his own commodity has 
or has not any use-value for the owner of the other. From this 
point of view, exchange is for him a social transaction of a 
general character. But one and the same set of transactions cannot 
be simultaneously for all owners of commodities both exclu- 
sively private and exclusively social and general. 

Let us look at the matter a little closer. To the owner of a 
commodity, every other commodity is, in regard to his own, a 
particular equivalent, and consequently his own commodity is 
the universal equivalent for all the others. But since this applies 
to every owner, there is, in fact, no commodity acting as uni- 
versal equivalent, and the relative value of commodities possesses 
no general form under which they can be equated as values and 
have the magnitude of their values compared. So far, therefore, 
they do not confront each other as commodities, but only as 
products or use-values. In their difficulties our commodity- 
owners think like Faust: "Im Anfang war die That." They 
therefore acted and transacted before they thought. Instinctively 
they conform to the laws imposed by the nature of commodities. 
They cannot bring their commodities into relation as values, 
and therefore as commodities, except by comparing them with 
some one other commodity as the universal equivalent. That 
we saw from the analysis of a commodity. But a particular com- 
modity cannot become the universal equivalent except by a social 
act. The social action therefore of all other commodities, sets 
apart the particular commodity in which they all represent their 
values. Thereby the bodily form of this commodity becomes the 
form of the socially recognised universal equivalent. To be the 
universal equivalent, becomes, by this social process, the specific 
function of the commodity thus excluded by the rest. Thus it 
becomes — money. "Illi unum consilium habent et virtutem 
et potestatem suam bestise tradunt. Et ne quis possit emere aut 
vendere, nisi qui habet characterem aut nomen bestise, ^ut nume- 
rum nominis ejus." (Apocalypse.) 

Money is a crystal formed of necessity in the course of the 
exchanges, whereby different products of labour are practically 
equated to one another and thus by practice converted into com- 
modities. The historical progress and extension of exchanges de- 
velops the contrast, latent in commodities, between use-value and 
value. The necessity for giving an external expression to this 


contrast for the purposes of commercial intercourse, urges on 
the establishment of an independent form of value, and finds no 
rest until it is once for all satisfied by the differentiation of com- 
modities into commodities and money. At the same rate, then, 
as the conversion of products into commodities is being accom- 
plished, so also is the conversion of one special commodity into 
money. 1 

The direct barter of products attains the elementary form 
of the relative expression of value in one respect, but not in an- 
other. That form is x Commodity A = y Commodity B. The form 
of direct barter is x use-value A= y use-value B. 2 The articles 
A and B in this case are not as yet commodities, but become so 
only by the act of barter. The first step made by an object of util- 
ity towards acquiring exchange-value is when it forms a non-use- 
value for its owner, and that happens when it forms a superfluous 
portion of some article required for his immediate wants. Objects 
in themselves are external to man, and consequently alienable 
by him. In order that this alienation may be reciprocal, it is 
only necessary for men, by a tacit understanding, to treat each 
other as private owners of those alienable objects, and by impli- 
cation as independent individuals. But such a state of reciprocal 
independence has no existence in a primitive society based on 
property in common, whether such a society takes the form of a 
patriarchal family, an ancient Indian community, or a Peruvian 
Inca State. The exchange of commodities, therefore, first begins 
on the boundaries of such communities, at their points of contact 
with other similar communities, or with members of the latter. 
So soon, however, as products once become commodities in the 
external relations of a community, they also, by reaction, become 
so in its internal intercourse. The proportions in which they are 
exchangeable are at first quite a matter of chance. What makes 
them exchangeable is the mutual desire of their owners to alie- 
nate them. Meantime the need for foreign objects of utility 

1 From this we may form an estimate of the shrewdness of the petit- 
bourgeois socialism, which, while perpetuating the production of commodi- 
ties, aims at abolishing the "antagonism" between money and commodities, 
and consequently, since money exists only by virtue of this antagonism, at 
abolishing money itself. We might just as well try to retain Catholicism with- 
out the Pope. For more on this point see my work "Zur Kritik der Pol. 
Oekon." ,p. 61, sq. 

2 So long as, instead of two distinct use-values being exchanged, a 
chaotic mass of articles are offered as the equivalent of a single article, which 
is often the case with savages, even the direct barter of products is in its 
first infancy. 


gradually establishes itself. The constant repetition of exchange 
makes it a normal social act. In the course of time, therefore, some 
portion at least of the products of labour must be produced with 
a special view to exchange. From that moment the distinction 
becomes firmly established between the utility of an object for 
the purposes of consumption, and its utility for the purposes of ex- 
change. Its use-value becomes distinguished from its exchange- 
value. On the other hand, the quantitative proportion in which 
the articles are exchangeable, becomes dependent on their produc- 
tion itself. Custom stamps them as values with definite magni- 

In the direct barter of products, each commodity is directly 
a means of exchange to its owner, and to all other persons an 
equivalent, but that only in so far as it has use-value for them. 
At this stage, therefore, the articles exchanged do not acquire 
a value-form independent of their own use-value, or of the individ- 
ual needs of the exchangers. The necessity for a value-form grows 
with the increasing number and variety of the commodities ex- 
changed. The problem and the means of solution arise simultane- 
ously. Commodity-owners never equate their own commodities to 
those of others, and exchange them on a large scale, without differ- 
ent kinds of commodities belonging to different owners being ex- 
changeable for, and equated as values to, one and the same special 
article. Such last-mentioned article, by becoming the equivalent 
of various other commodities, acquires at once, though within 
narrow limits, the character of a general social equivalent. This 
character comes and goes with the momentary social acts that 
called it into life. In turns and transiently it attaches itself first 
to this and then to that commodity. But with the development of 
exchange it fixes itself firmly and exclusively to particular sorts 
of commodities, and becomes crystallised by assuming the money- 
form. The particular kind of commodity to which it sticks is at 
first a matter of accident. Nevertheless there are two circumstances 
whose influence is decisive. The money-form attaches itself either 
to the most important articles of exchange from outside, and these 
in fact are primitive and natural forms in which the exchange- 
value of home products finds expression; or else it attaches itself 
to the object of utility that forms, like cattle, the chief portion 
of indigenous alienable wealth. Nomad races are the first to 
develop the money-form, because all their worldly goods consist 
of moveable objects and are therefore directly alienable; and be- 
cause their mode of life, by continually bringing them into con- 
tact with foreign communities, solicits the exchange of products. 


Man has often made man himself, under the form of slaves, serve 
as the primitive material of money, but has never used land for 
that purpose. Such an idea could only spring up in a bourgeois 
society already well developed. It dates from the last third of 
the 17th century, and the first attempt to put it in practice 
on a national scale was made a century afterwards, during the 
French bourgeois revolution. 

In proportion as exchange bursts its local bonds, and the 
value of commodities more and more expands into an embodi- 
ment of human labour in the abstract, in the same proportion 
the character of money attaches itself to commodities that are 
by Nature fitted to perform the social function of a universal equiv- 
alent. Those commodities are the precious metals. 

The truth of the proposition that, "although gold and silver 
are not by Nature money, money is by Nature gold and silver," 1 
is shown by the fitness of the physical properties of these metals 
for the functions of money. 2 Up to this point, however, we are 
acquainted only with one function of money, namely, to serva 
as the form of manifestation of the value of commodities, or as 
the material in which the magnitudes of their values are socially 
expressed. An adequate form of manifestation of value, a fit 
embodiment of abstract, undifferentiated, and therefore equal 
human labour, that material alone can be whose every sample 
exhibits the same uniform qualities. On the other hand, since the 
difference between the magnitudes of value is purely quantitative, 
the money-commodity must be susceptible of merely quantita^ 
tive differences, must therefore be divisible at will, and equally 
capable of being re-united. Gold and silver possess these properties 
by Nature. 

The use-value of the money-commodity becomes two-fold. 
In addition to its special use-value as a commodity (gold, 
for instance, serving to stop teeth, to form the raw material of 
articles of luxury, &c), it acquires a formal use-value, originat- 
ing in its specific social function. 

Since all commodities are merely particular equivalents of 
money, the latter being their universal equivalent, they, with 
regard to the latter as the universal commodity, play the parts 
of particular commodities. 3 

1 Karl Marx. 1. c, p. 135. "I metalli ... naturalmente moneta." 
(Galiani, "Delia moneta" in Custodi's Collection: Parte Moderna t. iii.). 

2 For further details on this subject see in my work cited above, the 
chapter on "The precious metals." 

3 "II danaro e la merce universale" (Verri, 1. c, p. 16). 


We have seen that the money-form is but the reflex, thrown 
upon one single commodity, of the value relations between all 
the rest. That money is a commodity 1 is therefore a new discovery 
only for those who, when they analyse it, start from its fully de- 
veloped shape. The act of exchange gives to the commodity con- 
verted into money, not its value, but its specific value-form. 
By confounding these two distinct things some writers have 
been led to hold that the value of gold and silver is imaginary. 2 
The fact that money can, in certain functions, be replaced by mere 
symbols of itself, gave rise to that other mistaken notion, that 
it is itself a mere symbol. Nevertheless under this error lurked 
a presentiment that the money-form of an object is not an insep- 
arable part of that object, but is simply the form under which 
certain social relations manifest themselves. In this sense every 
commodity is a symbol, since, in so far as it is value, it is only 
the material envelope of the human labour spent upon it. 3 But if 

1 "Silver and gold themselves (which we may call by the general 
name of bullion) are ... commodities ... rising and falling in ... value... 
Bullion, then, may be reckoned to be of higher value where the smaller 
weight will purchase the greater quantity of the product or manufacture of 
the countrey," &c. ("A Discourse of the General Notions of Money, Trade, 
and Exchanges, as They Stand in Relation each to other." By a Merchant! 
Lond., 1695, p. 7.) "Silver and gold, coined or uncoined, though they are 
used for a measure of all other things, are no less a commodity than wine, 
oil, tobacco, cloth, or stuffs." ("A Discourse concerning Trade, and that in 
particular of the East Indies," &c. London, 1689, p. 2.) "The stock and riches 
of the kingdom cannot properly be confined to money, nor ought gold and 
silver to be excluded from being merchandise." ("The East-India Trade a 
Most Profitable Trade." London, 1677, p. 4.) 

2 "L'oro e l'argento hanno valore come metalli anteriore all'esser mo- 
neta." (Galiani, 1. c.) Locke says, "The universal consent of mankind erave 
to silver, on account of its qualities which made it suitable for money, an 
imaginary value." Law, on the other hand, "How could different nations 
give an imaginary value to any single thing... or how could this imaginary 
value have' maintained itself?" But the following shows how little he 
himself understood about the matter: "Silver was exchanged in proportion 
to the value in use it possessed, consequently in proportion to its real value. 
By its adoption as money it received an additional value (une valeur addi- 
tionnelle)". (Jean Law: "Considerations sur le numeraire et le commerce" 
in E. Daire's Edit, of "Economistes Financiers du XVIII. siecle ," p. 470.) 

3 "L'Argent en (des denrees) est le signe." (V. de Forbonnais: "Elements 
du Commerce, Nouv. Edit. Leyde, 1766," t. II., p. 143.) "Comme signe il 
est attire par les denrees." (1. c, p. 155.) "L'argent est un signe d'une 
chose et la represente." (Montesquieu: "Esprit des Lois," (CEuvres, Lond. 
1767, t. II, p. 2.) "L'argent n'est pas simple signe, car*il est lui-meme rich- 
esse; il ne represente pas les valeurs, il les equivaut." (Le Trosne, I. c, p. 
910.) "The notion of value contemplates the valuable article as a mere sym- 


it be declared that the social characters assumed by objects, or 
the material forms assumed by the social qualities of labour under 
the regime of a definite mode of production, are mere symbols, 
it is in the same breath also declared that these characteristics 
are arbitrary fictions sanctioned by the so-called universal consent 
of mankind. This suited the mode of explanation in favour during 
the 18th century. Unable to account for the origin of the puzzling 
forms assumed by social relations between man and man, people 
sought to denude them of their strange appearance by ascribing 
to them a conventional origin. 

It has already been remarked above that the equivalent form 
of a commodity does not imply the determination of the magni- 
tude of its value. Therefore, although we may be aware that gold 
is money, and consequently directly exchangeable for all other 
commodities, yet that fact by no means tells how much 10 lbs., 
for instance, of gold is worth. Money, like every other commodity, 
cannot express the magnitude of its value except relatively in 
other commodities. This value is determined by the labour-time 
required for its production, and is expressed by the quantity 
of any other commodity that costs the same amount of labour- 
time. 1 Such quantitative determination of its relative value takes 

bol; the article counts not for what it is, but for what it is worth." (Hegel, 
1. c, p. 100.) Lawyers started long before economists the idea that money 
is a mere symbol, and that the value of the precious metals is purely imagi- 
nary. This they did in the sycophantic service of the crowned heads, support- 
ing the right of the latter to debase the coinage, during the whole of the mid- 
dle ages, by the traditions of the Roman Empire and the conceptions of money 
to be found in the Pandects "Qu'aucun puisse ni doive faire doute," says an 
apt scholar of theirs, Philip of Valois, in a decree of 1346, "que a nous et a 
notre majeste royale n'appartiennent seulement ... le mestier, le fait, 
l'etat, la provision et toute l'ordonnance des monnaies, de donner tel cours, 
et pour tel prix comme il nous plait et bon nous semble." It was a maxim of 
the Roman Law that the value of money was fixed by decree of the emperor. 
It was expressly forbidden to treat money as a commodity. "Pecunias vero 
nulli einere fas erit, nam in usu publico constitutas oportet non esse mercem." 
Some good work on this question has been done by G. F. Pagnini: "Saggio 
sopra il giusto pregio delle cose, 1751"; Custodi "Parte Moderna," t. II. In 
the second part of his work Pagnini directs his polemics especially against 
the lawyers. 

1 "If a man can bring to London an ounce of Silver out of the Earth 
in Peru, in the same time that he can produce a bushelof Corn, then the one 
is the natural price of the other; now, if by reason of new or more easie 
mines a man can procure two ounces of silver as easily as he formerly did one, 
the corn will be as cheap at ten shillings the bushel as it was before at five 
shillings, ceteris paribus." William Petty. "A Treatise of Taxes and Contri- 
butions." Lond., 1667, p. 32. 


place at the source of its production by means of barter. When 
it steps into circulation as money, its value is already given. 
In the last decades of the 17th century it had already been shown 
that money is a commodity, but this step marks only the infancy 
of the analysis. The difficulty lies, not in comprehending that 
money is a commodity, but in discovering how, why, and by what 
means a commodity becomes money. 1 

We have already seen, from the most elementary expression 
of value, x commodity A=y commodity B, that the object in 
which the magnitude of the value of another object is represented, 
appears to have the equivalent form independently of this rela- 
tion, as a social property given to it by Nature. We followed up 
this false appearance to its final establishment, which is complete 
so soon as the universal equivalent form becomes identified with 
the bodily form of a particular commodity, and thus crystal- 
lised into the money-form. What appears to happen is, not that 
gold becomes money, in consequence of all other commodities 
expressing their values in it, but, on the contrary, that all other 
commodities universally express their values in gold, because it 
is money. The intermediate steps of the process vanish in the 
result and leave no trace behind. Commodities find their own value 
already completely represented, without any initiative on their 
part, in another commodity existing in company with them. These 
objects, gold and silver, just as they come out of the bowels of 
the earth, are forthwith the direct incarnation of all human 
labour. Hence the magic of money. In the form of society now under 
consideration, the behaviour of men in the social process of 
production is purely atomic. Hence their relations to each other 

1 The learned Professor Roscher, after first informing us that "the false 
definitions of money may be divided into two main groups: those which make 
it more, and those which make it less, than a commodity," gives us a long 
and very mixed catalogue of works on the nature of money, from which it 
appears that he has not the remotest idea of the real history of the theory; 
and then he moralises thus: "For the rest, it is not to be denied that most of 
the later economists do not bear sufficiently in mind the peculiarities that 
distinguish money from other commodities" (it is then, after all, either 
more or less than a commodity!)... "So far, the semi-mercantilist reaction 
of Ganilh is not altogether without foundation." (Wilhelm Roscher: "Die 
Grundlagen der Nationaloekonomie," 3rd Edn., 1858, pp. 207-210.) More! 
less! not sufficiently! so far! not altogether! What clearness and precision of 
ideas and language! And such eclectic professorial twaddle i is modestly 
baptised by Mr. Roscher, "the anatomico-physiological method!' of Political 
Economy! One discovery however, he must have credit for, Aamely, that 
money is "a pleasant commodity." 


in production assume a material character independent of their 
control and conscious individual action. These facts manifest 
themselves at first by products as a general rule taking the form 
of commodities. We have seen how the progressive development 
of a society of commodity-producers stamps one privileged com- 
modity with the character of money. Hence the riddle presented 
by money is but the riddle presented by commodities; only it 
now strikes us in its most glaring form. 




Throughout this work, I assume, for the sake of simplicity, 
gold as the money-commodity. 

The first chief function of money is to supply commodities 
with the material for the expression of their values, or to 
represent their values as magnitudes of the same denomination, 
qualitatively equal, and quantitatively comparable. It thus 
serves as a universal measure of value. And only by virtue of this 
function does gold, the equivalent commodity par excellence, 
become money. 

It is not money that renders commodities commensurable. 
Just the contrary. It is because all commodities, as values, are 
realised human labour, and therefore commensurable, that their 
values can be measured by one and the same special commodity, 
and the latter be converted into the common measure of their 
values, i.e., into money. Money as a measure of value JL J_s the 
phenomenal form that must of necessity be assumed by that 
measure of value which is immanent in commodities, laboUr-fcrmeT^ 

1 The question — Why does not money directly represent labour-time, 
so that a piece of paper may represent, for instance, x hours' labour, is at 
bottom the same as the question why, given the production of commodities, 
must products take the form of commodities? This is evident, since their 
taking the form of commodities implies their differentiation into commodi- 
ties and money. Or, why cannot private labour — labour for the account of 
private individuals — be treated as its opposite, immediate social labour? 
I have elsewhere examined thoroughly the Utopian idea of "labour-money" 
in a society founded on the production of commodities (1. c, p. 61, seq.). 
On this point I will only say further, that Owen's "labour-money," for in- 
stance, is no more "money" than a ticket for the theatre. Owen pre-supposes 
directly associated labour, a form of production that -is entirely inconsist- 
ent with the production of commodities. The certificate of labour is merely 
evidence of the part taken by the individual in the common labour, and of 


The expression of the value of a commodity in gold— x 
commodity A=y money-commodity — is its money-form or 
price. A single equation, such as 1 ton of iron =2 ounces of gold, 
now suffices to express the value of the iron in a socially valid 
manner. There is no longer any need for this equation to figure 
as a link in the chain of equations that express the values of all 
other commodities, because the equivalent commodity, gold, 
now has the character of money. The general form of relative 
value has resumed its original shape of simple or isolated relative 
value. On the other hand, the expanded expression of relative 
value, the endless series of equations, has now become the form 
peculiar to the relative value of the money-commodity. The series 
itself, too, is now given, and has social recognition in the prices 
of actual commodities. We have only to read the quotations of 
a price-list backwards, to find the magnitude of the value of 
money expressed in all sorts of commodities. But money itself has 
no price. In order to put it on an equal footing with all other 
commodities in this respect, we should be obliged to equate it to 
itself as its own equivalent. 

The price or money-form of commodities is, like their form 
of value generally, a form quite distinct from their palpable bodily 
form; it is, therefore, a purely ideal or mental form. Although 
invisible, the value of iron, linen and corn has actual existence 
in these very articles: it is ideally made perceptible by their 
equality with gold, a relation that, so to say, exists only in their 
own heads. Their owner must, therefore, lend them his tongue, 
or hang a ticket on them, before their prices can be communi- 
cated to the outside world. 1 Since the expression of the value of 
commodities in gold is a merely ideal act, we may use for this 
purpose imaginary or ideal money. Every trader knows, that he 

his right to a certain portion of the common produce destined for consumption. 
But it never enters into Owen's head to pre-suppose the production of com- 
modities, and at the same time, by juggling with money, to try to evade the 
necessary conditions of that production. 

1 Savages and half-civilised races use the tongue differently. Captain 
Parry says of the inhabitants on the west coast of Baffin's Bay: "In this 
case (he refers to barter) they licked it (the thing represented to them) twice 
to their tongues, after which they seemed to consider the bargain satisfac- 
torily concluded." In the same way, the Eastern Esquimaux licked the articles 
they received in exchange. If the tongue is thus used in the North as the 
organ of appropriation, no wonder that, in the South, the stomach serves 
as the organ of accumulated property, and that a Kaffir estimates the wealth 
of a man by the size of his belly. That the Kaffirs know what they are about 
is shown by the following: at the same time that the official British Health 


is far from having turned his goods into money, when he has ex- 
pressed their value in a price or in imaginary money, and that it 
does not require the least bit of real gold, to estimate in that 
metal millions of pounds' worth of goods. When, therefore, money 
serves as a measure of value, it is employed only as imaginary 
or ideal money. This circumstance has given rise to the wildest 
theories. 1 But, although the money that performs the functions 
of a measure of value is only ideal money, price depends entirely 
upon the actual substance that is money. The value, or in other 
words, the quantity of human labour contained in a ton of iron, 
is expressed in imagination by such a quantity of the money- 
commodity as contains the same amount of labour as the iron. 
According, therefore, as the measure of value is gold, silver, or 
copper, the value of the ton of iron will be expressed by very 
different prices, or will be represented by very different quantities 
of those metals respectively. 

If, therefore, two different commodities, such as gold and 
silver, are simultaneously measures of value, all commodities 
have two prices — one a gold-price, the other a silver-price. 
These exist quietly side by side, so long as the ratio of the value 
of silver to that of gold remains unchanged, say, at 15 : 1. Every 
change in their ratio disturbs the ratio which exists between the 
gold-prices and the silver-prices of commodities, and thus proves, 
by facts, that a double standard of value is inconsistent with the 
functions of a standard. 2 

Report of 1864 disclosed the deficiency of fat-forming food among a large 
part of the working-class, a certain Dr. Harvey (not, however, the celebrat- 
ed discoverer of the circulation of the blood), made a good thing by adver- 
tising recipes for reducing the superfluous fat of the bourgeoisie and aris- 

1 See Karl Marx: "Zur Kritik, &c." "Theorien von der Masseinheit des 
Geldes," p. 53, seq. 

2 "Wherever gold and silver have by law been made to perform the 
function of money or of a measure of value side by side, it has always been 
tried, but in vain, to treat them as one and the same material. To assume 
that there is an invariable ratio between the quantities of gold and silver in 
which a given quantity of labour-time is incorporated, is to assume, in fact, 
that gold and silver are of one and the same material, and that a given mass 
of the less valuable metal, silver, is a constant fraction of a given mass of 
gold. From the reign of Edward III. to the time of George II., the history 
of money in England consists of one long series of perturbations caused by 
the clashing of the legally fixed ratio between the values of gold and silver, 
with the fluctuations in their real values. At one time gold was too high, 
at another, silver. The metal that for the time being was estimated below 
its value, was withdrawn from circulation, melted and exported. The ratio 
between the two metals was then again altered by law, but the new nominal 


Commodities with definite prices present themselves under 
the form: a commodity A=x gold; b commodity B =z gold; 
c commodity C=y gold, &c, where a, b, c, represent definite 
quantities of the commodities A, B, G and x, z, y, definite quan- 
tities of gold. The values of these commodities are, therefore, 
changed in imagination into so many different quantities of gold. 
Hence, in spite of the confusing variety of the commodities them- 
selves, their values become magnitudes of the same denomination, 
gold-magnitudes. They are now capable of being compared with 
each other and measured, and the want becomes technically felt 
of comparing them with some fixed quantity of gold as a unit 
measure. This unit, by subsequent division into aliquot parts, 
becomes itself the standard or scale. Before they become money, 
gold, silver, and copper already possess such standard measures 
in their standards of weight, so that, for example, a pound weight, 
while serving as the unit, is, on the one hand, divisible into ounces, 
and, on the other, may be combined to make up hundredweights. x 
It is owing to this that, in all metallic currencies, the names 
given to the standards of money or of price were originally taken 
from the pre-existing names of the standards of weight. 

As measure of value, and as standard of price, money has two 
entirely distinct functions to perform. It is the measure of value 
inasmuch as it is the socially recognised incarnation of human 

ratio soon came into conflict again with the real one. In our own times, the 
slight and transient fall in the value of gold compared with silver, which 
was a consequence of the Indo-Chinese demand for silver, produced on a far 
more extended scale in France the same phenomena, export of silver, and its 
expulsion from circulation by gold. During the years 1855, 1856 and 1857, the 
excess in France of gold-imports over gold-exports amounted to £ 41 ,580,000, 
while the excess of silver-exports over silver-imports was £ 14,704,000. In 
fact, in those countries in which both metals are legally measures of value, 
and therefore both legal tender, so that everyone has the option of paying 
in either metal, the metal that rises in value is at a premium, and, like every 
other commodity, measures its price in the over-estimated metal which alone 
serves in reality as the standard of value. The result of all experience and 
history with regard to this question is simply that, where two commodities 
perform by law the functions of a measure of value, in practice one alone 
maintains that position." (Karl Marx, 1. c, pp. 52, 53.) 

1 The peculiar circumstance, that while the ounce of gold serves in 
England as the unit of the standard of money, the pound sterling does not 
form an aliquot part of it, has been explained as follows: "Our coinage was 
originally adapted to the employment of silver only, hence, an ounce oi sil- 
ver can always be divided into a certain adequate number of pieces oi coin; 
but as gold was introduced at a later period into a coinage adapted only to 
silver, an ounce of gold cannot be coined into an aliquot number of pieces 
Maclaren, "A Sketch of the History of the Currency." London, 1856, p. lb. 


labour- it is the standard of price inasmuch as it is a fixed weight 
of metal. As the measure of value it serves to convert the values 
of all the manifold commodities into prices, into imaginary quan- 
tities of gold; as the standard of price it measures those quanti- 
ties of gold. The measure of values measures commodities consid- 
ered as values; the standard of price measures, on the contrary, 
quantities of gold by a unit quantity of gold, not the value of 
one quantity of gold by the weight of another. In order to make 
gold a standard of price, a certain weight must be fixed upon as the 
unit. In this case, as in all cases of measuring quantities of the 
same denomination, the establishment of an unvarying unit of 
measure is all-important. Hence, the less the unit is subject to 
variation, so much the better does the standard of price fulfil its 
office. But only in so far as it is itself a product of labour, and, 
therefore, potentially variable in value, can gold serve as a measure 
of value. 1 

It is, in the first place, quite clear that a change in the value 
of gold does not, in any way, affect its function as a standard of 
price. No matter how this value varies, the proportions between 
the values of different quantities of the metal remain constant. 
However great the fall in its value, 12 ounces of gold still have 
12 times the value of 1 ounce; and in prices, the only thing consid- 
ered is the relation between different quantities of gold. Since, on 
the other hand, no rise or fall in the value of an ounce of gold can 
alter its weight, no alteration can take place in the weight of its 
aliquot parts. Thus gold always renders the same service as an 
invariable standard of price, however much its value may vary. 

In the second place, a change in the value of gold does not 
interfere with its functions as a measure of value. The change 
affects all commodities simultaneously, and, therefore, caeteris 
paribus, leaves their relative values inter se, unaltered, although 
those values are now expressed in higher or lower gold-prices. 

Just as when we estimate the value of any commodity by 
a definite quantity of the use-value of some other commodity, 
so in estimating the value of the former in gold, we assume noth- 
ing more than that the production of a given quantity of gold 
costs, at the given period, a given amount of labour. As regards 
the fluctuations of prices generally, they are subject to the laws 
of elementary relative value investigated in a former chapter. 

1 With English writers the confusion between measure of value and 
standard of price (standard of value) is indescribable. Their functions, as 
well as their names, are constantly interchanged. 


A general rise in the prices of commodities can result only, 
either from a rise in their values— the value of money remaining 
constant— or from a fall in the value of money, the values 
of commodities remaining constant. On the other hand, a general 
fall in prices can result only, either from a fall in the values of 
commodities— the value of money remaining constant— or 
from a rise in the value of money, the values of commodities re- 
maining constant. It therefore by no means follows, that a rise in 
the value of money necessarily implies a proportional fall in the 
prices of commodities; or that a fall in the value of money implies 
a proportional rise in prices. Such change of price holds good only 
in the case of commodities whose value remains constant. With 
those, for example, whose value rises, simultaneously with, and 
proportionally to, that of money, there is no alteration in price. 
And if their value rise either slower or faster than that of money, 
the fall or rise in their prices will be determined by the differ- 
ence between the change in their value and that of money; and 
so on. 

Let us now go back to the consideration of the price-form. 

By degrees there arises a discrepancy between the current 
money-names of the various weights of the precious metal 
figuring as money, and the actual weights which those names 
originally represented. This discrepancy is the result of his- 
torical causes, among which the chief are: — (1) The importation 
of foreign money into an imperfectly developed community. 
This happened in Rome in its early days, where gold and silver 
coins circulated at first as foreign commodities. The names of 
these foreign coins never coincide with those of the indigenous 
weights. (2) As wealth increases, the less precious metal is thrust 
out by the more precious from its place as a measure of value, 
copper by silver, silver by gold, however much this order of se- 
quence may be in contradiction with poetical chronology. 1 The 
word pound, for instance, was the money-name given to an actual 
pound weight of silver. When gold replaced silver as a measure 
of value, the same name was applied according to the ratio be- 
tween the values of silver and gold, to perhaps l-15th of a pound 
of gold. The word pound, as a money-name, thus becomes differen- 
tiated from the same word as a weight-name. 2 (3) The debasing 

1 Moreover, it has not general historical validity. 

2 It is thus that the pound sterling in English denotes less than one- 
third of its original weight; the pound Scot, before the union, only l-36th; 
the French livre, l-74th; the Spanish maravedi, less than 1-1, 000th; and the 
Portuguese rei a still smaller fraction. 


of money carried on for centuries by kings and princes to such 
an extent that, of the original weights of the coins, nothing in 
fact remained but the names. 1 

These historical causes convert the separation of the money- 
name from the weight-name into an established habit with the 
community. Since the standard of money is on the one hand purely 
conventional, and must on the other hand find general accept- 
ance, it is in the end regulated by law. A given weight of one of the 
precious metals, an ounce of gold, for instance, becomes officially 
divided into aliquot parts, with legally bestowed names, such 
as pound, dollar, &c. These aliquot parts, which thenceforth 
serve as units of money, are then subdivided into other aliquot 
parts with legal names, such as shilling, penny, &c. 2 But, both 
before and after these divisions are made, a definite weight of 
metal is the standard of metallic money. The sole alteration con- 
sists in the subdivision and denomination. 

The prices, or quantities of gold, into which the values of 
commodities are ideally changed, are therefore now expressed 
in the names of coins, or in the legally valid names of the sub- 
divisions of the gold standard. Hence, instead of saying: A quarter 
of wheat is worth an ounce of gold; we say, it is worth £3 17s. 

10 y d. In this way commodities express by their prices how much 

they are worth, and money serves as money of account whenever 
it is a question of fixing the value of an article in its money-form, 3 
The name of a thing is something distinct from the qualities 
of that thing. I know nothing of a man, by knowing that his 
name is Jacob. In the same way with regard to money, every 
trace of a value-relation disappears in the names pound, dollar, 
franc, ducat, &c. The confusion caused by attributing a hidden 
meaning to these cabalistic signs is all the greater, because these 
money-names express both the values of commodities, and, at 
the same time, aliquot parts of the weight of the metal that is 

1 "Le monete le quali oggi sono ideali sono le piu antiche d'ogni na- 
zione, e tutte furono un tempo reali, e perche erano reali con esse si con 
tava." (Galiani: Delia moneta, 1. c, p. 153.) 

2 David Urquhart remarks in his "Familiar Words" on the monstros- 
ity (!) that now-a-days a pound (sterling), which is the unit of the English 
standard of money, is equal to about a quarter of an ounce of gold. "This is 
falsifying a measure, not establishing a standard." He sees in this "false de- 
nomination" of the weight of gold, as in everything else, the falsifying hand 
of civilisation. 

3 When Anacharsis was asked for what purposes the Greeks used mon- 
ey, he replied, "For reckoning." (Athen. Deipn. 1. iv. 49 v. 2. ed. Schweig- 
hauser, 1802.) 


the standard of money. 1 On the other hand, it is absolutely neces- 
sary that value, in order that it may be distinguished from the 
varied bodily forms of commodities, should assume this material 
and unmeaning, but, at the same time, purely social form. 2 

Price is the money-name of the labour realised in a commodity. 
Hence the expression of the equivalence of a commodity with 
the sum of money constituting its price, is a tautology, 8 just 
as in general the expression of the relative value of a commodity 
is a statement of the equivalence of two commodities. But although 
price, being the exponent of the magnitude of a commodity's 
value, is the exponent of its exchange-ratio with money, it does 
not follow that the exponent of this exchange-ratio is necessarily 
the exponent of the magnitude of the commodity's value. Sup- 
pose two equal quantities of socially necessary labour to be respec- 
tively represented by 1 quarter of wheat and £2 (nearly */ 2 oz. 
of gold), £2 is the expression in money of the magnitude of the 
value of the quarter of wheat, or is its price. If now circumstances 
allow of this price being raised to £3, or compel it to be reduced 
to £1, then although £1 and £3 may be too small or too great 
properly to express the magnitude of the wheat's value, neverthe- 

1 "Owing to the fact that money, when serving as the standard oi price, 
appears under the same reckoning names as do the prices of commodities, 
and that therefore the sum of £3 17s. 10 -^ d. may signify on the one hand 
an ounce weight of gold, and on the other, the value of a ton of iron, this 
reckoning name of money has been called its mint-price. Hence there sprang 
up the extraordinary notion, that the value of gold is estimated in its own 
material, and that, in contradistinction to all other commodities, its price 
is fixed by the State. It was erroneously thought that the giving of reckoning 
names to definite weights of gold, is the same thing as fixing the value of 
those weights." (Karl Marx, 1. c, p. 52.) 

2 See "Theorien von der Masseinheit des Geldes" in "Zur Kntik der 
Pol. Oekon. &c," p. 53, seq. The fantastic notions about raising or lowering 
the mint -price of money by transferring to greater or smaller weights of 
gold or silver the names already legally appropriated to fixed weights of 
those metals; such notions, at least in those cases in which they aim, not 
at clumsy financial operations against creditors, both public and private, 
but at economic quack remedies, have been so exhaustively treated by Wm. 
Petty in his "Quantulumcunaue concerning money: To the Lord Marquis of 
Halifax, 1682," that even his immediate followers, Sir Dudley North and 
John Locke, not to mention later ones, could only dilute him. "If the wealth 
of a nation," he remarks, "could be decupled by a proclamation, it were 
strange that such proclamations have not long since been made by our 
Governors." (1. c, p. 36.) 

3 "Ou bien, il faut consentir a dire qu'une valeur d un million en ar- 
gent vaut plus qu'une valeur egale en marchandises." (Le Trosne, 1. c, p. 
919), which amounts to saying "qu'une valeur vaut plus qu'une valeur egale. 


less they are its prices, for they are, in the first place, the form 
under which its value appears, i.e., money; and in the second 
place, the exponents of its exchange-ratio with money. If the 
conditions of production, in other words, if the productive power 
of labour remain constant, the same amount of social labour-time 
must, both before and after the change in price, be expended in the 
reproduction of a quarter of wheat. This circumstance depends, 
neither on the will of the wheat producer, nor on that of the owners 
of other commodities. 

Magnitude of value expresses a relation of social production, 
it expresses the connexion that necessarily exists between a cer- 
tain article and the portion of the total labour-time of society 
required to produce it. As soon as magnitude of value is converted 
into price, the above necessary relation takes the shape of a more 
or less accidental exchange-ratio between a single commodity 
and another, the money-commodity. But this exchange-ratio may 
express either the real magnitude of that commodity's value, 
or the quantity of gold deviating from that value, for which, 
according to circumstances, it may be parted with. The possibility, 
therefore, of quantitative incongruity between price and magni- 
tude of value, or the deviation of the former from the latter, is 
inherent in the price-form itself. This is no defect, but, on the 
contrary, admirably adapts the price-form to a mode of production 
whose inherent laws impose themselves only as the mean of appar- 
ently lawless irregularities that compensate one another. 

The price-form, however, is not only compatible with the 
possibility of a quantitative incongruity between magnitude 
of value and price, i.e., between the former and its expression 
in money, but it may also conceal a qualitative inconsistency, so 
much so, that, although money is nothing but the value-form of 
commodities, price ceases altogether to express value. Objects 
that in themselves are no commodities, such as conscience, honour, 
&c, are capable of being offered for sale by their holders, and 
of thus acquiring, through their price, the form of commodities. 
Hence an object may have a price without having value. The 
price in that case is imaginary, like certain quantities in mathe- 
matics. On the other hand, the imaginary price-form may some- 
times conceal either a direct or indirect real value-relation; for in- 
stance, the price of uncultivated land, which is without value, 
because no human labour has been incorporated in it. 

Price, like relative value in general, expresses the value of 
a commodity {e.g., a ton of iron), by stating that a given quan- 
tity of the equivalent {e.g., an ounce of gold), is directly exchange^ 


able for iron. But it by no means states the converse, that 
iron is directly exchangeable for gold. In order, therefore, that 
a commodity may in practice act effectively as exchange-value, 
it must quit its bodily shape, must transform itself from mere 
imaginary into real gold, although to the commodity such tran- 
substantiation may be more difficult than to the Hegelian "con- 
cept," the transition from "necessity" to "freedom," or to a lobster 
the casting of his shell, or to Saint Jerome the putting off of the 
old Adam. l Though a commodity may, side by side with its actual 
form (iron, for instance), take in our imagination the form of 
gold, yet it cannot at one and the same time actually be both 
iron and gold. To fix its price, it suffices to equate it to gold in 
imagination. But to enable it to render to its owner the service 
of a universal equivalent, it must be actually replaced by gold. 
If the owner of the iron were to go to the owner of some other 
commodity offered for exchange, and were to refer him to the price 
of the iron as proof that it was already money, he would get the 
same answer as St. Peter gave in heaven to Dante, when the latter 
recited the creed — 

"Assai bene e trascorsa 
D'esta moneta gia la lega e'l peso, 
Ma dimmi se tu l'hai nella tua borsa." 

A price therefore implies both that a commodity is exchange- 
able for money, and also that it must be so exchanged. On the 
other hand, gold serves as an ideal measure of value, only because 
it has already, in the process of exchange, established itself as 
the money-commodity. Under the ideal measure of values there 
lurks the hard cash. 

a. The Metamorphosis of Commodities 

We saw in a former chapter that the exchange of commodi- 
ties implies contradictory and mutually exclusive conditions. 
The differentiation of commodities into commodities and money 
does not sweep away these inconsistencies, but develops a mo- 
dus vivendi, a form in which they can exist side by side. This is 

1 Jerome had to wrestle hard, not only in his youth with the hodily 
flesh, as is shown by his fight in the desert with the handsome women of his 
imagination, but also in his old age with the spiritual flesh. "I thought," he 
says, "I was in the spirit before the Judge of the Universe." "Who art thou?" 
asked a voice. "I am a Christian." "Thou liest," thundered back the great 
Judge, "thou art nought but a Ciceronian." 


generally the way in which real contradictions are reconciled. 
For instance, it is a contradiction to depict one body as constantly 
falling towards another, and as, at the same time, constantly 
flying away from it. The ellipse is a form of motion which, while 
allowing this contradiction to go on, at the same time reconciles it. 

In so far as exchange is a process, by which commodities are 
transferred from hands in which they are non-use-values, to 
hands in which they become use-values, it is a social circulation 
of matter. The product of one form of useful labour replaces that 
of another. When once a commodity has found a resting-place, 
where it can serve as a use-value, it falls out of the sphere of ex- 
change into that of consumption. But the former sphere alone in- 
terests us at present. We have, therefore, now to consider exchange 
from a formal point of view; to investigate the change of form or 
metamorphosis of commodities which effectuates the social cir- 
culation of matter. 

The comprehension of this change of form is, as a rule, very 
imperfect. The cause of this imperfection is, apart from indis- 
tinct notions of value itself, that every change of form in a com- 
modity results from the exchange of two commodities, an ordinary 
one and the money-commodity. If we keep in view the material 
fact alone that a commodity has been exchanged for gold, we 
overlook the very thing that we ought to observe — namely, 
what has happened to the form of the commodity. We overlook 
the facts that gold, when a mere commodity, is not money, and 
that when other commodities express their prices in gold, this 
gold is but the money-form of those commodities themselves. 

Commodities, first of all, enter into the process of exchange 
just as they are. The process then differentiates them into commodi- 
ties and money, and thus produces an external opposition corre- 
sponding to the internal opposition inherent in them, as being 
at once use-values and values. Commodities as use-values now 
stand opposed to money as exchange-value. On the other hand, 
both opposing sides are commodities, unities of use-value and 
value. But this unity of differences manifests itself at two opposite 
poles, and at each pole in an opposite way. Being poles they are 
as necessarily opposite as they are connected. On the one side of 
the equation we have an ordinary commodity, which is in reality 
a use-value. Its value is expressed only ideally in its price, by 
which it is equated to its opponent, the gold, as to the real em- 
bodiment of its value. On the other hand, the gold, in its metallic 
reality, ranks as the embodiment of value, as money. Gold, as 
gold, is exchange-value itself. As to its use-value, that has only 


an ideal existence, represented by the series of expressions of 
relative value in which it stands face to face with all other com- 
modities, the sum of whose uses makes up the sum of the various 
uses of gold. These antagonistic forms of commodities are the real 
forms in which the process of their exchange moves and takes place. 

Let us now accompany the owner of some commodity — say, 
our old friend the weaver of linen— to the scene of action, the 
market. His 20 yards of linen has a definite price, £2. He ex- 
changes it for the £2, and then, like a man of the good old stamp 
that he is, he parts with the £2 for a family Bible of the same 
price. The linen, which in his eyes is a mere commodity, a depos- 
itory of value, he alienates in exchange for gold, which is the 
linen's value-form, and this form he again parts with for another 
commodity, the Bible, which is destined to enter his house as 
an object of utility and of edification to its inmates. The exchange 
becomes an accomplished fact by two metamorphoses of opposite 
yet supplementary character — the conversion of the commodity 
into money, and the re-conversion of the money into a commodity. l 
The two phases of this metamorphosis are both of them distinct 
transactions of the weaver — selling, or the exchange of the com- 
modity for money; buying, or the exchange of the money for a 
commodity; and, the unity of the two acts, selling in order to buy. 

The result of the whole transaction, as regards the weaver, 
is this, that instead of being in possession of the linen, he now 
has the Bible; instead of his original commodity, he now possesses 
another of the same value but of different utility. In like manner 
he procures his other means of subsistence and means of production. 
From his point of view, the whole process effectuates nothing 
more than the exchange of the product of his labour for the 
product of some one else's, nothing more than an exchange of 

The exchange of commodities is therefore accompanied by 
the following changes in their form. 

Commodity— Money— Commodity. 
C M C. 

The result of the whole process is, so far as concerns the 
objects themselves, C— C, the exchange of one commodity for 

1 "£•/ 6s too .... noob<i ctvTa|i6et(S ea&ou 7idvTa, cprpiv o'Hpax/.eitoi;, xai nop dnavrwv, 
uio7iep ipuaoo ip-i]\ia-:a xal xp^jJtitcov ypoao?'. (F. Lassalle: "Die Philosophie 
Herakleitos des Dunkeln." Berlin, 1858, Vol. l.p. 222.) Lassalle in his note 
on this passage, p. 224, n. 3, erroneously makes gold a mere symbol of value. 


another, the circulation of materialised social labour. When 
this result is attained, the process is at an end. 

C — M. First metamorphosis, or sale 

The leap taken by value from the body of the commodity, 
into the body of the gold, is, as I have elsewhere called it, the 
salto mortale of the commodity. If it falls short, then, although 
the commodity itself is not harmed, its owner decidedly is. 
The social division of labour causes his labour to be as one-sided 
as his wants are many-sided. This is precisely the reason why the 
product of his labour serves him solely as exchange-value. But it 
cannot acquire the properties of a socially recognised universal 
equivalent, except by being converted into money. That money, 
however, is in some one else's pocket. In order to entice the money 
out of that pocket, our friend's commodity must, above all things, 
be a use-value to the owner of the money. For this, it is necessary 
that the labour expended upon it, be of a kind that is socially use- 
ful, of a kind that constitutes a branch of the social division of 
labour. But division of labour is a system of production which 
has grown up spontaneously and continues to grow behind the 
backs of the producers. The commodity to be exchanged may 
possibly be the product of some new kind of labour, that pretends 
to satisfy newly arisen requirements, or even to give rise itself 
to new requirements. A particular operation, though yesterday, 
perhaps, forming one out of the many operations conducted by 
one producer in creating a given commodity, may to-day separate 
itself from this connexion, may establish itself as an independ- 
ent branch of labour and send its incomplete product to market 
as an independent commodity. The circumstances may or may 
not be ripe for such a separation. To-day the product satisfies a 
social want. To-morrow the article may, either altogether or par- 
tially, be superseded by some other appropriate product. Moreover, 
although our weaver's labour may be a recognised branch of the 
social division of labour, yet that fact is by no means sufficient to 
guarantee the utility of his 20 yards of linen. If the community's 
want of linen, and such a want has a limit like every other want, 
should already be saturated by the products of rival weavers, our 
friend's product is superfluous, redundant, and consequently 
useless. Although people do not look a gift-horse in the mouth, 
our friend does not frequent the market for the purpose of making 
presents. But suppose his product turn out a real use-value, 


and thereby attracts money? The question arises, how much 
will it attract? No doubt the answer is already anticipated in 
the price of the article, in the exponent of the magnitude of its 
value. We leave out of consideration here any accidental miscal- 
culation of value by our friend, a mistake that is soon rectified 
in the market. We suppose him to have spent on his product only 
that amount of labour-time that is on an average socially necessa- 
ry. The price then, is merely the money-name of the quantity of 
social labour realised in his commodity. But without the leave, 
and behind the back, of our weaver, the old-fashioned mode of 
weaving undergoes a change. The labour-time that yesterday 
was without doubt socially necessary to the production of a yard 
of linen, ceases to be so to-day, a fact which the owner of the money 
is only too eager to prove from the prices quoted by our friend's 
competitors. Unluckily for him, weavers are not few and far be- 
tween. Lastly, suppose that every piece of linen in the market 
contains no more labour-time than is socially necessary. In spite 
of this, all these pieces taken as a whole, may have had super- 
fluous labour-time spent upon them. If the market cannot stomach 
the whole quantity at the normal price of 2 shillings a yard, this 
proves that too great a portion of the total labour of the community 
has been expended in the form of weaving. The effect is the same 
as if each individual weaver had expended more labour-time 
upon his particular product than is socially necessary. Here we 
may say, with the German proverb: caught together, hung together. 
All the linen in the market counts but as one article of commerce, 
of which each piece is only an aliquot part. And as a matter of 
fact, the value also of each single yard is but the materialised 
form of the same definite and socially fixed quantity of homoge- 
neous human labour.* 

We see then, commodities are in love with money, but "the 
course of true love never did run smooth." The quantitative 
division of labour is brought about in exactly the same spon- 
taneous and accidental manner as its qualitative division. The 
owners of commodities therefore find out, that the same division 
of labour that turns them into independent private producers, 

* Tn his letter of November 28, 1878, to N. F. Danielson (Nikolai— on) 
Marx proposed that this sentence be corrected to read as follows: "And, as 
a matter of fact, the value of each single yard is but the materialised form 
of a part of the social labour expended on the whole number of yards." An 
analogous correction was made in a copy of the second German edition of 
the first volume of "Capital" belonging to Marx; however, not in his hand- 
writing. — Note by the Institute of Marxism- Leninism in the Russian 


also frees the social process of production and the relations of the 
individual producers to each other within that process, from all 
dependence on the will of those producers, and that the seeming 
mutual independence of the individuals is supplemented by a 
system of general and mutual dependence through or by means 
of the products. 

The division of labour converts the product of labour into a 
commodity, and thereby makes necessary its further conversion 
into money. At the same time it also makes the accomplishment 
of this transubstantiation quite accidental. Here, however, 
we are only concerned with the phenomenon in its integrity, and 
we therefore assume its progress to be normal. Moreover, if the 
conversion take place at all, that is, if the commodity be not 
absolutely unsaleable, its metamorphosis does take place although 
the price realised may be abnormally above or below the value. 

The seller has his commodity replaced by gold, the buyer 
has his gold replaced by a commodity. The fact which here stares 
us in the face is, that a commodity and gold, 20 yards of linen and 
£2, have changed hands and places, in other words, that they 
have been exchanged. But for what is the commodity exchanged? 
For the shape assumed by its own value, for the universal equiva- 
lent. And for what is the gold exchanged? For a particular form of 
its own use-value. Why does gold take the form of money face 
to face with the linen? Because the linen's price of £2, its de- 
nomination in money, has already equated the linen to gold in its 
character of money. A commodity strips off its original commodity- 
form on being alienated, i.e., on the instant its use-value actually 
attracts the gold, that before existed only ideally in its price. 
The realisation of a commodity's price, or of its ideal value-form, 
is therefore at the same time the realisation of the ideal use-value 
of money; the conversion of a commodity into money, is the simul- 
taneous conversion of money into a commodity. The apparently 
single process is in reality a double one. From the pole of the com- 
modity-owner it is a sale, from the opposite pole of the money- 
owner, it is a purchase. In other words, a sale is a purchase, C — M 
is also M— C. 1 

Up to this point we have considered men in only one econom- 
ic capacity, that of owners of commodities, a capacity in 
which they appropriate the produce of the labour of others, by 

1 "Toute vente est achat." (Dr. Quesnay: "Dialogues sur le Commerce 
et les Travaux des Artisans." Physiocrates ed. Daire I. Partie, Paris, 1846, 
p. 170), or as Quesnay in his "Maximes generates" puts it, "Vendre est acheter." 


alienating that of their own labour. Hence, for one commodity- 
owner to meet with another who has money, it is necessary, either, 
that the product of the labour of the latter person, the buyer, 
should be in itself money, should be gold, the material of which 
money consists, or that his product should already have changed 
its skin and have stripped off its original form of a useful object. 
In order that it may play the part of money, gold must of cours3 
enter the market at some point or other. This point is to be found 
at the source of production of the metal, at which place gold is 
bartered, as the immediate product of labour, for some other 
product of equal value. From that moment it always represents 
the realised price of some commodity. 1 Apart from its exchange 
for other commodities at the source of its production, gold, in 
whose-so-ever hands it may be, is the transformed shape of some 
commodity alienated by its owner; it is the product of a sale or 
of the first metamorphosis G — M. 2 Gold, as we saw, became ideal 
money, or a measure of values, in consequence of all commodities 
measuring their values by it, and thus contrasting it ideally with 
their natural shape as useful objects, and making it the shape 
of their value. It became real money, by the general alienation 
of commodities, by actually changing places with their natural 
forms as useful objects, and thus becoming in reality the embodi- 
ment of their values. When they assume this money-shape, com- 
modities strip off every trace of their natural use-value, and of 
the particular kind of labour to which they owe their creation, 
in order to transform themselves into the uniform, socially recog- 
nised incarnation of homogeneous human labour. We cannot tell 
from the mere look of a piece of money, for what particular com- 
modity it has been exchanged. Under their money-form all com- 
modities look alike. Hence, money may be dirt, although dirt is 
not money. We will assume that the two gold pieces, in considera- 
tion of which our weaver has parted with his linen, are the meta- 
morphosed shape of a quarter of wheat. The sale of the linen, 
G— M, is at the same time its purchase, M— G. But the sale is 
the first act of a process that ends with a transaction of an opposite 
nature, namely, the purchase of a Bible; the purchase of the linen, 
on the other hand, ends a movement that began with a transac- 
tion of an opposite nature, namely, with the sale of the wheat. 

1 "Le prix d'une marchandise ne pouvant etre paye que par le prix 
d'une autre marchandise." (Mercier de la Riviere: "L'Ordre naturel et esseu- 
tiel de societes politiques." Physiocrates, ed Daire II. Partie, p. 554.) 

2 "Pour avoir cet argent, il faut avoir vendu," 1. c, p. 543. 


G — M (linen — money), which is the first phase of G — M — C (linen — 
money — Bible), is also M — C (money — linen), the last phase 
of another movement C — M — C (wheat — money — linen). The first 
metamorphosis of one commodity, its transformation from a com- 
modity into money, is therefore also invariably the second meta- 
morphosis of some other commodity, the retransformation of the 
latter from money into a commodity. * 

M — C, or purchase. The second 
and concluding metamorphosis of a commodity 

Because money is the metamorphosed shape of all other com- 
modities, the result of their general alienation, for this reason 
it is alienable itself without restriction or condition. It reads all 
prices backwards, and thus, so to say, depicts itself in the bodies 
of all other commodities, which offer to it the material for the 
realisation of its own use-value. At the same time the prices, 
wooing glances cast at money by commodities, define the limits 
of its convertibility, by pointing to its quantity. Since every 
commodity, on becoming money, disappears as a commodi- 
ty, it is impossible to tell from the money itself, how it got 
into the hands of its possessor, or what article has been changed 
into it. Non olet, from whatever source it may come. Represent- 
ing on the one hand a sold commodity, it represents on the other 
a commodity to be bought. 2 

M— C, a purchase, is, at the same time, C— M, a sale; the con- 
cluding metamorphosis of one commodity is the first metamor- 
phosis of another. With regard to our weaver, the life of his com- 
modity ends with the Bible, into which he has reconverted his £2. 
But suppose the seller of the Bible turns the £2 set free by the 
weaver into brandy M— C, the concluding phase of C— M— C 
(linen, money, Bible), is also C — M, the first phase of C — M — G 
(Bible, money, brandy). The producer of a particular commodity 
has that one article alone to offer; this he sells very often in large 
quantities, but his many and various wants compel him to split 
up the price realised, the sum of money set free, into numerous 
purchases. Hence a sale leads to many purchases of various arti- 

1 As before remarked, the actual producer of gold or silver forms an 
exception. He exchanges his product directly for another commodity, with- 
out having first sold it. 

2 "Si I'argent represente, dans nos mains, les choses que nous pouvons 
desirer d'acheter, il y represente aussi les choses que nous avons vendues 
pour cet argent." (Mercier de la Riviere, 1. c, p. 586.) 


cles. The concluding metamorphosis of a commodity thus con- 
stitutes an aggregation of first metamorphoses of various other 

If we now consider the completed metamorphosis of a com- 
modity, as a whole, it appears in the first place, that it is made 
up of two opposite and complementary movements, C — M and 
M — G. These two antithetical transmutations of a commodity 
are brought about by two antithetical social acts on the part 
of the owner, and these acts in their turn stamp the character 
of the economic parts played by him. As the person who makes 
a sale, he is a seller; as the person who makes a purchase, he is a 
buyer. But just as, upon every such transmutation of a commodity, 
its two forms, commodity-form and money-form, exist simulta- 
neously but at opposite poles, so every seller has a buyer opposed 
to him, and every buyer a seller. While one particular commodity 
is going through its two transmutations in succession, from a com- 
modity into money and from money into another commodity, 
the owner of the commodity changes in succession his part from 
that of seller to that of buyer. These characters of seller and buyer 
are therefore not permanent, but attach themselves in turns to 
the various persons engaged in the circulation of commodities. 

The complete metamorphosis of a commodity, in its simplest 
form, implies four extremes, and three dramatis personae. First, 
a commodity comes face to face with money; the latter is the form 
taken by the value of the former, and exists in all its hard reality, 
in the pocket of the buyer. A commodity-owner is thus brought into 
contact with a possessor of money. So soon, now, as the commodity 
has been changed into money, the money becomes its transient 
equivalent-form, the use-value of which equivalent-form is to be 
found in the bodies of other commodities. Money, the final term 
of the first transmutation, is at the same time the starting-point 
for the second. The person who is a seller in the first transaction 
thus becomes a buyer in the second, in which a third commodity- 
owner appears on the scene as a seller. 1 

The two phases, each inverse to the other, that make up the 
metamorphosis of a commodity constitute together a circular 
movement, a circuit: commodity-form, stripping off of this form, 
and return to the commodity-form. No doubt, the commodity 
appears here under two different aspects. At the starting-point 
it is not a use-value to its owner; at the finishing point it is. So, 
too, the money appears in the first phase as a solid crystal of 

1 "II y a done quatre termes et trois contractants, dont i'un inter- 
view deux t'ois." (Le Trosne, 1. c, p. 909.) 


value, a crystal into which the commodity eagerly solidifies, 
and in the second, dissolves into the mere transient equivalent- 
form destined to be replaced by a use-value. 

The two metamorphoses constituting the circuit are at the 
same time two inverse partial metamorphoses of two other com- 
modities. One and the same commodity, the linen, opens the series 
of its own metamorphoses, and completes the metamorphosis of 
another (the wheat). In the first phase or sale, the linen plays 
these two parts in its own person. But, then, changed into gold, 
it completes its own second and final metamorphosis, and helps 
at the same time to accomplish the first metamorphosis of a third 
commodity. Hence the circuit made by one commodity in the 
course of its metamorphoses is inextricably mixed up with the 
circuits of other commodities. The total of all the different circuits 
constitutes the circulation of commodities. 

The circulation of commodities differs from the direct ex- 
change of products (barter), not only in form, but in substance. 
Only consider the course of events. The weaver has, as a matter 
of fact, exchanged his linen for a Bible, his own commodity for 
that of some one else. But this is true only so far as he himself 
is concerned. The seller of the Bible, who prefers something to 
warm his inside, no more thought of exchanging his Bible for 
linen than our weaver knew that wheat had been exchanged for 
his linen. B's commodity replaces that of A, but A and B do not 
mutually exchange those commodities. It may, of course, happen 
that A and B make simultaneous purchases, the one from the oth- 
er; but such exceptional transactions are by no means the neces- 
sary result of the general conditions of the circulation of commodi- 
ties. We see here, on the one hand, how the exchange of commodi- 
ties breaks through all local and personal bounds inseparable from 
direct barter, and develops the circulation of the products of 
social labour; and on the other hand, how it develops a whole 
network of social relations spontaneous in their growth and entire- 
ly beyond the control of the actors. It is only because the farmer 
has sold his wheat that the weaver is enabled to sell his linen, 
only because the weaver has sold his linen that our Hotspur is 
enabled to sell his Bible, and only because the latter has sold 
the water of everlasting life that the distiller is enabled to sell 
his eau-de-vie, and so on. 

The process of circulation, therefore, does not, like direct 
barter of products, become extinguished upon the use-values 
changing places and hands. The money does not vanish on dropping 
out of the circuit of the metamorphosis of a given commodity. 


It is constantly being precipitated into new places in the arena 
of circulation vacated by other commodities. In the complete 
metamorphosis of the linen, for example, linen — money — Bible, 
the linen first falls out of circulation, and money steps into its 
place. Then the Bible falls out of circulation, and again money 
takes its place. When one commodity replaces another, the money- 
commodity always sticks to the hands of some third person. 1 
Circulation sweats money from every pore. 

Nothing can be more childish than the dogma, that because 
every sale is a purchase, and every purchase a sale, therefore the 
circulation of commodities necessarily implies an equilibrium of 
sales and purchases. If this means that the number of actual sales 
is equal to the number of purchases, it is mere tautology. But its 
real purport is to prove that every seller brings his buyer to 
market with him. Nothing of the kind. The sale and the purchase 
constitute one identical act, an exchange between a commodity- 
owner and an owner of money, between two persons as opposed 
to each other as the two poles of a magnet. They form two distinct 
acts, of polar and opposite characters, when performed by one 
single person. Hence the identity of sale and purchase implies 
that the commodity is useless, if, on being thrown into the alche- 
mistical retort of circulation, it does not come out again in the 
shape of money; if, in other words, it cannot be sold by its owner, 
and therefore be bought by the owner of the money. That identity 
further implies that the exchange, if it do take place, constitutes 
a period of rest, an interval, long or short, in the life of the com- 
modity. Since the first metamorphosis of a commodity is at once 
a sale and a purchase, it is also an independent process in itself. 
The purchaser has the commodity, the seller has the money, i.e., 
a commodity ready to go into circulation at any time. No one 
can sell unless some one else purchases. But no one is forthwith 
bound to purchase, because he has just sold. Circulation bursts 
through all restrictions as to time, place, and individuals, im- 
posed by direct barter, and this it effects by splitting up, into the 
antithesis of a sale and a purchase, the direct identity that in 
barter does exist between the alienation of one's own and the acqui- 
sition of some other man's product. To say that these two independ- 
ent and antithetical acts have an intrinsic unity, are essentially 
one, is the same as to say that this intrinsic oneness expresses itself 
in an external antithesis. If the interval in time between the two 

1 Self-evident as this may be, it is nevertheless for the most part unob- 
served by political economists, and especially by the "Free-trader Vulgaris." 


complementary phases of the complete metamorphosis of a com- 
modity become too great, if the split between the sale and the 
purchase become too pronounced, the intimate connexion between 
them, their oneness, asserts itself by producing — a crisis. The 
antithesis, use-value and value; the contradictions that private 
labour is bound to manifest itself as direct social labour, that a 
particularised concrete kind of labour has to pass for abstract 
human labour; the contradiction between the personification of 
objects and the representation of persons by things; all these an- 
titheses and contradictions, which are immanent in commodities, 
assert themselves, and develop their modes of motion, in the 
antithetical phases of the metamorphosis of a commodity. These 
modes therefore imply the possibility, and no more than the possi- 
bility, of crises. The conversion of this mere possibility into a 
reality is the result of a long series of relations, that, from our 
present standpoint of simple circulation, have as yet no existence. * 

b. The currency 2 of money 

The change of form, C — M — G, by which the circulation of 
the material products of labour is brought about, requires that 
a given value in the shape of a commodity shall begin the process, 
and shall, also in the shape of a commodity, end it. The move- 
ment of the commodity is therefore a circuit. On the other hand, 
the form of this movement precludes a circuit from being made 
by the money. The result is not the return of the money, but its 
continued removal further and further away from its starting- 

1 See my observations on James Mill in "Zur Kritik, &c," pp. 74-76. 
With regard to this subject, we may notice two methods characteristic of 
apologetic economy. The first is the identification of the circulation of com- 
modities with the direct barter of products, by simple abstraction from their 
points of difference: the second is, the attempt to explain away the contradic- 
tions of capitalist production, by reducing the relations between the persons 
engaged in that mode of production, to the simple relations arising out of 
the circulation of commodities. The production and circulation of commodi- 
ties are, however, phenomena that occur to a greater or less extent in modes 
of production the most diverse. If we are acquainted with nothing but the 
abstract categories of circulation, which are common to all these modes 
of production, we cannot possibly know anything of the specific points of 
difference of those modes, nor pronounce any judgment upon them. In no science 
is such a big fuss made with commonplace truisms as in Political Economy. 
For instance, J B Say sets himself up as a judge of crises, because, forsooth, 
he knows that a commodity is a product. 

2 Translator's nite. — This word is here used in its original significa- 
tion of the course or track pursued by money as it changes from hand to 
hand, a course which essentially differs from circulation. 


point. So long as the seller sticks fast to his money, which is the 
transformed shape of his commodity, that commodity is still in 
the first phase of its metamorphosis, and has completed only half 
its course. But so soon as he completes the process, so soon as he 
supplements his sale by a purchase, the money again leaves the 
hands of its possessor. It is true that if the weaver, after buying the 
Bible, sell more linen, money comes back into his hands. But this 
return is not owing to the circulation of the first 20 yards of linen; 
that circulation resulted in the money getting i nto the hands of the 
seller of the Bible. The return of money into the hands of the weaver 
is brought about only by the renewal or repetition of the process 
of circulation with a fresh commodity, which renewed process ends 
with the same result as its predecessor did. Hence the movement 
directly imparted to money by the circulation of commodities 
takes the form of a constant motion away from its starting-point, 
of a course from the hands of one commodity-owner into those of 
another. This course constitutes its currency (cours de la monnaie). 
The currency of money is the constant and monotonous 
repetition of the same process. The commodity is always in the 
hands of the seller; the money, as a means of purchase, always 
in the hands of the buyer. And money serves as a means of purchase 
by realising the price of the commodity. This realisation transfers 
the commodity from the seller to the buyer and removes the money 
from the hands of the buyer into those of the seller, where it again 
goes through the same process with another, commodity. That 
this one-sided character of the money's motion arises out of the 
two-sided character of the commodity's motion, is a circumstance 
that is veiled over. The very nature of the circulation of commodi- 
ties begets the opposite appearance. The first metamorphosis of 
a commodity is visibly, not only the money's movement, but also 
that of the commodity itself; in the second metamorphosis, on 
the contrary, the movement appears to us as the movement of the 
money alone. In the first phase of its circulation the commodity 
changes place with the money. Thereupon the commodity, under 
its aspect of a useful object, falls out of circulation into consump- 
tion. 1 In its stead we have its value-shape— the money. It then 
goes through the second phase of its circulation, not under its 
own natural shape, but under the shape of money. The continuity 
of the movement is therefore kept up by the money alone, and 

1 Even when the commodity is sold over and over again, a phenomenon 
that at present has no existence for us, it falls, when definitely sold for the 
last time, out of the sphere of circulation into that of consumption, where 
it serves either as means of subsistence or means of production. 


the same movement that as regards the commodity consists of 
two processes of an antithetical character, is, when considered as 
the movement of the money, always one and the same process, 
a continued change of places with ever fresh commodities. Hence 
the result brought about by the circulation of commodities, 
namely, the replacing of one commodity by another, takes the 
appearance of having been effected not by means of the change of 
form of the commodities, but rather by the money acting as a 
medium of circulation, by an action that circulates commodities, 
to all appearance motionless in themselves, and transfers them 
from hands in which they are non-use-values, to hands in which 
they are use-values; and that in a direction constantly opposed 
to the direction of the money. The latter is continually with- 
drawing commodities from circulation and stepping into their 
places, and in this way continually moving further and further 
from its starting-point. Hence although the movement of the money 
is merely the expression of the circulation of commodities, yet 
the contrary appears to be the actual fact, and the circulation of 
commodities seems to be the result of the movement of the money. 1 
Again, money functions as a means of circulation only because 
in it the values of commodities have independent reality. Hence 
its movement, as the medium of circulation, is, in fact, merely 
the movement of commodities while changing their form. This 
fact must therefore make itself plainly visible in the currency of 
money. Thus* the linen, for instance, first of all changes its 
commodity-form into its money-form. The second term of its 
first metamorphosis, C — M, the money-form, then becomes the 
first term of its final metamorphosis, M — C, its re-conversion into 
the Bible. But each of these two changes of form is accomplished 
by an exchange between commodity and money, by their recip- 
rocal displacement. The same pieces of coin come into the seller's 
hand as the alienated form of the commodity and leave it as the 
absolutely alienable form of the commodity. They are displaced 
twice. The first metamorphosis of the linen puts these coins into 
the weaver's pocket, the second draws them out of it. The two 
inverse changes undergone by the same commodity are reflected 
in the displacement, twice repeated, but in opposite directions, 
of the same pieces of coin. 

1 "II (l'argent) n'a d'autre mouvement que celui qui lui est imprim6 
par les productions." (Le Trosne, 1. c, p. 885.) 

* Here (from "Thus the linen..." to "commodities in general," p. 117) 
the English text has been altered in conformity with the 4th German edi- 
tion. — Ed. 


If, on the contrary, only one phase of the metamorphosis is 
gone through, if there are only sales or only purchases, then a 
given piece of money changes its place only once. Its second change 
of place always expresses the second metamorphosis of the com- 
modity, its re-conversion from money. The frequent repetition of 
the displacement of the same coins reflects not only the series of 
metamorphoses that a single commodity has gone through, but 
also the intertwining of the innumerable metamorphoses in the 
world of commodities in general. It is a matter of course, that all 
this is applicable to the simple circulation of commodities alone, 
the only form that we are now considering. 

Every commodity, when it first steps into circulation, and 
undergoes its first change of form, does so only to fall out of circu- 
lation again and to be replaced by other commodities. Money, on 
the contrary, as the medium of circulation, keeps continually within 
the sphere of circulation, and moves about in it. The question 
therefore arises, how much money this sphere constantly absorbs? 

In a given country there take place every day at the same 
time, but in different localities, numerous one-sided metamor- 
phoses of commodities, or, in other words, numerous sales and nu- 
merous purchases. The commodities are equated beforehand in im- 
agination, by their prices, to definite quantities of money. And 
since, in the form of circulation now under consideration, money 
and commodities always come bodily face to face, one at the pos- 
itive pole of purchase, the other at the negative pole of sale, it 
is clear that the amount of the means of circulation required, is 
determined beforehand by the sum of the prices of all these com- 
modities. As a matter of fact, the money in reality represents the 
quantity or sum of gold ideally expressed beforehand by the sum 
of the prices of the commodities. The equality of these two sums 
is therefore self-evident. We know, however, that, the values of 
commodities remaining constant, their prices vary with the value 
of gold (the material of money), rising in proportion as it falls, 
and falling in proportion as it rises. Now if, in consequence of 
such a rise or fall in the value of gold, the sum of the prices of 
commodities fall or rise, the quantity of money in currency must 
fall or rise to the same extent. The change in the quantity of the 
circulating medium is, in this case, it is true, caused by the money 
itself, vet not in virtue of its function as a medium of circulation, 
but of its function as a measure of value. First, the price of the 
commodities varies inversely as the value of the money, and then 
the quantity of the medium of circulation varies directly as the 
price of the commodities, Exactly the same thing would happen 


if, for instance, instead of the value of gold falling, gold were re- 
placed by silver as the measure of value, or if, instead of the value 
of silver rising, gold were to thrust silver out from being the 
measure of value. In the one case, more silver would be current 
than gold was before, in the other case, less gold would be current 
than silver was before. In each case the value of the material of 
money, i.e., the value of the commodity that serves as the meas- 
ure of value, would have undergone a change, and therefore so, 
too, would the prices of commodities which express their values 
in money, and so, too, would the quantity of money current whose 
function it is to realise those prices. We have already seen, that 
the sphere of circulation has an opening through which gold (or 
the material of money generally) enters into it as a commodity 
with a given value. Hence, when money enters on its functions as a 
measure of value, when it expresses prices, its value is already 
determined. If now its value fall, this fact is first evidenced by a 
change in the prices of those commodities that are directly bar- 
tered for the precious metals at the sources of their production. The 
greater part of all other commodities, especially in the imperfectly 
developed stages of civil society, will continue for a long time to 
be estimated by the former antiquated and illusory value of the 
measure of value. Nevertheless, one commodity infects another 
through their common value-relation, so that their prices, expressed 
in gold or in silver, gradually settle down into the proportions 
determined by their comparative values, until finally the values 
of all commodities are estimated in terms of the new value of the 
metal that constitutes money. This process is accompanied by 
the continued increase in the quantity of the precious metals, 
an increase caused by their streaming in to replace the articles 
directly bartered for them at their sources of production. In pro- 
portion therefore as commodities in general acquire their true 
prices, in proportion as their values become estimated according 
to the fallen value of the precious metal, in the same proportion 
the quantity of that metal necessary for realising those new prices 
is provided beforehand. A one-sided observation of the results 
that followed upon the discovery of fresh supplies of gold and sil- 
ver, led some economists in the 17th, and particularly in the 18th 
century, to the false conclusion, that the prices of commodities 
had gone up in consequence of the increased quantity of gold and 
silver serving as means of circulation. Henceforth we shall con- 
sider the value of gold to be given, as, in fact, it'is momentarily 
whenever we estimate the price of a commodity. 

On this supposition then, the quantity of the medium of cir- 


culation is determined by the sum of the prices that have to be 
realised. If now we further suppose the price of each commodity 
to be given, the sum of the prices clearly depends on the mass of 
commodities in circulation. It requires but little racking of 
brains to comprehend that if one quarter of wheat costs £2, 100 
quarters will cost £200, 200 quarters £400, and so on, that 
consequently the quantity of money that changes place with the 
wheat, when sold, must increase with the quantity of that wheat. 

If the mass of commodities remain constant, the quantity of 
circulating money varies with the fluctuations in the prices of 
those commodities. It increases and diminishes because the sum 
of the prices increases or diminishes in consequence of the change 
of price. To produce this effect, it is by no means requisite that 
the prices of all commodities should rise or fall simultaneously. 
A rise or a fall in the prices of a number of leading articles, is 
sufficient in the one case to increase in the other to diminish, the 
sum of the prices of all commodities, and, therefore, to put more 
or less money in circulation. Whether the change in the price corre- 
spond to an actual change of value in the commodities, or whether 
it be the result of mere fluctuations in market-prices, the effect 
on the quantity of the medium of circulation remains the same. 

Suppose the following articles to be sold or partially meta- 
morphosed simultaneously in different localities: say, one quarter 
of wheat, 20 yards of linen, one Bible, and 4 gallons of brandy. 
If the price of each article be £2, and the sum of the prices to be 
realised be consequently £8, it follows that £8 in money must 
go into circulation. If, on the other hand, these same articles are 
links in the following chain of metamorphoses: 1 quarter of wheat — 
£2—20 yards of linen— £2—1 Bible— £2— 4 gallons of brandy— 
£2, a chain that is already well known to us, in that case the £2 
cause the different commodities to circulate one after the other, 
and after realising their prices successively, and therefore the 
sum of those prices, £8, they come to rest at last in the pocket 
of the distiller. The £2 thus make four moves. This repeated change 
of place of the same pieces of money corresponds to the double 
change in form of the commodities, to their motion in opposite 
directions through two stages of circulation, and to the inter- 
lacing of the metamorphoses of different commodities. l These anti- 
thetic and complementary phases, of which the process of meta- 

1 "Ce sont ies productions qui le (l'argent) mettent en mouvement et 
le font circuler ... La celerite" de son mouvement (sc de l'argent) supplee a 
sa quantite. Lorsqu'il en est besoin, il ne fait que glisser d'une main dans 
l'autre sans s'arreter un instant." (Le Trosne, 1. c, pp 915, 916.) 


morphosis consists, are gone through, not simultaneously, but suc- 
cessively. Time is therefore required for the completion of the se- 
ries. Hence the velocity of the currency of money is measured by 
the number of moves made by a given piece of money in a given 
time. Suppose the circulation of the 4 articles takes a day. The 
sum of the prices to be realised in the day is £8, the number of 
moves of the two pieces of money is four, and the quantity of 
money circulating is £2. Hence, for a given interval of time dur- 
ing the process of circulation, we have the following relation: 
the quantity of money functioning as the circulating medium is 
equal to the sum of the prices of the commodities divided by the 
number of moves made by coins of the same denomination. This 
law holds generally. 

The total circulation of commodities in a given country 
during a given period is made up on the one hand of numerous 
isolated and simultaneous partial metamorphoses, sales which 
are at the same time purchases, in which each coin changes its 
place only once, or makes only one move; on the other hand, 
of numerous distinct series of metamorphoses partly running 
side by side, and partly coalescing with each other, in each of 
which series each coin makes a number of moves, the number 
being greater or less according to circumstances. The total num- 
ber of moves made by all the circulating coins of one denomina- 
tion being given, we can arrive at the average number of moves 
made by a single coin of that denomination, or at the average 
velocity of the currency of money. The quantity of money thrown 
into the circulation at the beginning of each day is of course de- 
termined by the sum of the prices of all the commodities circulat- 
ing simultaneously side by side. But once in circulation, coins 
are, so to say, made responsible for one another. If the one in- 
crease its velocity, the other either retards its own, or altogether 
falls out of circulation; for the circulation can absorb only such 
a quantity of gold as when multiplied by the mean number of 
moves made by one single coin or element, is equal to the sum of the 
prices to be realised. Hence if the number of moves made by the 
separate pieces increase, the total number of those pieces in cir- 
culation diminishes. If the number of the moves diminish, the total 
number of pieces increases. Since the quantity of money capa- 
ble of being absorbed by the circulation is given for a given mean 
velocity of currency, all that is necessary in order to abstract a 
given number of sovereigns from the circulation is to throw the 
same number of one-pound notes into it, a trick well known to 
all bankers. 


Just as the currency of money, generally considered, is but 
a reflex of the circulation of commodities, or of the antithetical 
metamorphoses they undergo, so, too, the velocity of that cur- 
rency reflects the rapidity with which commodities change their 
forms, the continued interlacing of one series of metamorphoses 
with another, the hurried social interchange of matter, the rapid 
disappearance of commodities from the sphere of circulation, and 
the equally rapid substitution of fresh ones in their places. Hence, 
in the velocity of the currency we have the fluent unity of the anti- 
thetical and complementary phases, the unity of the conversion 
of the useful aspect of commodities into their value-aspect, and 
their re-conversion from the latter aspect to the former, or the unity 
of the two processes of sale and purchase. On the other hand, the 
retardation of the currency reflects the separation of these two 
processes into isolated antithetical phases, reflects the stagnation 
in the change of form, and therefore, in the social interchange of 
matter. The circulation itself, of course, gives no clue to the ori- 
gin of this stagnation; it merely puts in evidence the phenomenon 
itself. The general public, who, simultaneously with the retar- 
dation of the currency, see money appear and disappear less fre- 
quently at the periphery of circulation, naturally attribute this 
retardation to a quantitative deficiency in the circulating medium. l 

The total quantity of money functioning during a given 
period as the circulating medium, is determined, on the one 

1 "Money being ... the common measure of buying and selling, every 
body who hath anything to sell, and cannot procure chapmen for it, is pres- 
ently apt to think, that want of money in the kingdom, or country, is the 
cause why his goods do not go off; and so, want of money is the common 
cry; which is a great mistake... What do these people want, who cry out for 
money? ... The farmer complains ... he thinks that were more money in the 
country, he should have a price for his goods. Then it seems money is not 
his want, but a price for his corn and cattel, which he would sell, but cannot... 
Why cannot he get a price? ... (1) Either there is too much corn and cattel 
in the country, so that most who come to market have need of selling, as he 
hath, and few of buying; or (2) There wants the usual vent abroad by trans- 
portation...; or (3) The consumption fails, as when men, by reason of poverty, 
do not spend so much in their houses as formerly they did; wherefore it is not 
the increase of specific money, which would at all advance the farmer's 
goods, but the removal of any of these three causes, which do truly keep down 
the market ... The merchant and shopkeeper want money in the same man- 
ner, that is, they want a vent for the goods they deal in, by reason that the 
markets fail".. [A nation] "never thrives better, than when riches are tost from 
hand to hand." (Sir Dudley North: "Discourses upon Trade," Lond. 1691, 
pp. 11-15, passim.) Herrenschwand's fanciful notions amount merely to 
this, that the antagonism, which has its origin in the nature of commodi- 
ties, and is reproduced in their circulation, can be removed by increasing 


hand, by the sum of the prices of the circulating commodities, 
and on the other hand, by the rapidity with which the anti- 
thetical phases of the metamorphoses follow one another. On this 
rapidity depends what proportion of the sum of the prices can, 
on the average, be realised by each single coin. But the sum of 
the prices of the circulating commodities depends on the quantity, 
as well as on the prices, of the commodities. These three factors, 
however, state of prices, quantity of circulating commodities, 
and velocity of money-currency, are all variable. Hence, the sum 
of the prices to be realised, and consequently the quantity of the 
circulating medium depending on that sum, will vary with the 
numerous variations of these three factors in combination. Of 
these variations we shall consider those alone that have been the 
most important in the history of prices. 

While prices remain constant, the quantity of the circulat- 
ing medium may increase owing to the number of circulating 
commodities increasing, or to the velocity of currency decreas- 
ing, or to a combination of the two. On the other hand the quan- 
tity of the circulating medium may decrease with a decreasing 
number of commodities, or with an increasing rapidity of their 

With a general rise in the prices of commodities, the quantity 
of the circulating medium will remain constant, provided the 
number of commodities in circulation decrease proportionally 
to the increase in their prices, or provided the velocity of currency 
increase at the same rate as prices rise, the number of commodi- 
ties in circulation remaining constant. The quantity of the cir- 
culating medium may decrease, owing to the number of commodi- 
ties decreasing more rapidly; or to the velocity of currency increas- 
ing more rapidly, than prices rise. 

With a general fall in the prices of commodities, the quan- 
tity of the circulating medium will remain constant, provided 
the number of commodities increase proportionally to their fall 
in price, or provided the velocity of currency decrease in the same 
proportion. The quantity of the circulating medium will increase, 
provided the number of commodities increase quicker, or the 
rapidity of circulation decrease quicker, than the prices fall. 

The variations of the different factors may mutually compen- 

the circulating medium. But if, on the one hand, it is a popular delusion to 
ascribe stagnation in production and circulation to insufficiency of the cir- 
culating medium, it by no means follows, on the other hand, that an actual 
paucity of the medium in consequence, e.g., of bungling legislative inter- 
ference with the regulation of currency, may not give rise to such stagnation. 


sate each other, so that notwithstanding their continued insta- 
bility, the sum of the prices to be realised and the quantity of 
money in circulation remain constant; consequently, we find, 
especially if we take long periods into consideration, that the 
deviations from the average level, of the quantity of money current 
in any country, are much smaller than we should at first sight 
expect, apart of course from excessive perturbations periodically 
arising from industrial and commercial crises, or, less frequently, 
from fluctuations in the value of money. 

The law, that the quantity of the circulating medium is 
determined by the sum of the prices of the commodities circu- 
lating, and the average velocity of currency 1 may also be stated 
as follows: given the sum of the values of commodities, and the 
average rapidity of their metamorphoses, the quantity of pre- 
cious metal current as money depends on the value of that precious 
metal. The erroneous opinion that it is, on the contrary, prices 
that are determined by the quantity of the circulating medium, 
and that the latter depends on the quantity of the precious 

1 "There is a certain measure and proportion of money requisite to 
drive the trade of a nation, more or less than which would prejudice the same. 
Just as there is a certain proportion of farthings necessary in a small retail 
trade, to change silver money, and to even such reckonings as cannot be ad- 
justed with the smallest silver pieces.... Now, as the proportion of the num- 
ber of farthings requisite in commerce is to be taken from the number of 
people, the frequency of their exchanges: as also, and principally, from the 
value of the smallest silver pieces of money; so in like manner, the propor- 
tion of money [gold and silver specie] requisite in our trade, is to be like- 
wise taken from the frequency of commutations, and from the bigness of 
the payments." (William Petty, "A Treatise of Taxes and Contributions." 
Lond. 1667, p. 17.) The Theory of Hume was defended against the attacks 
of J. Steuart and others, by A. Young, in his "Political Arithmetic," Lond. 
1774, in which work there is a special chapter entitled "Prices depend on 
quantity of money," at p. 112, squ. 1 have stated in "Zur Kritik, &c," p. 
149: "He (Adam Smith) passes over without remark the question as to the 
quantity of coin in circulation, and treats money quite wrongly as a mere 
commodity." This statement applies only in so far as Adam Smith, ex offi- 
cio, treats of money. Now and then, however, as in his criticism of the ear- 
lier systems of Political Economy, he takes the right view. "The quantity of 
coin in every country is regulated by the value of the commodities which 
are to be circulated by it.... The value of the goods annually bought and sold 
in any country requires a certain quantity of money to circulate and dis- 
tribute them to their proper consumers, and can give employment to no more. 
The channel of circulation necessarily draws to itself a sum sufficient to 
fill it, and never admits any more." ("Wealth of Nations." Bk. IV., ch. I.) 
In like manner, ex officio, he opens his work with an apotheosis on the divi- 
sion of labour. Afterwards, in the last book which treats of the sources of 
public revenue, he occasionally repeats the denunciations of the division of 
labour made by his teacher, A. Ferguson. 


metals in a country; 1 this opinion was based by those who first 
held it, on the absurd hypothesis that commodities are without a 
price, and money without a value, when they first enter into circu- 
lation, and that, once in the circulation, an aliquot part of the 
medley of commodities is exchanged for an aliquot part of the 
heap of precious metals. 2 

c. Coin and symbols of value 

That money takes the shape of coin, springs from its function 
as the circulating medium. The weight of gold represented in 
imagination by the prices or money-names of commodities, must 
confront those commodities, within the circulation, in the shape 
of coins or pieces of gold of a given denomination. Coining, like 

1 "The prices of things will certainly rise in every nation, as the gold 
and silver increase amongst the people; and consequently, where the gold 
and silver decrease in any nation, the prices of all things must fall propor- 
tionately to such decrease of money." (Jacob Vanderlint: "Money Answers 
all Things." Lond, 1734, p. 5.) A careful comparison of this book with 
Hume's "Essays," proves to my mind without doubt that Hume was acquainted 
with and made use of Vanderlint's work, which is certainly an important one. 
The opinion that prices are determined by the quantity of the circulating 
medium, was also held by Barbon and other much earlier writers. "No incon- 
venience," says Vanderlint, "can arise by an unrestrained trade, but very 
great advantage; since, if the cash of the nation be decreased by it, which 
prohibitions are designed to prevent, those nations that get the cash will 
certainly find everything advance in price, as the cash increases amongst 
them. And ... our manufactures, and everything else, will soon become so 
moderate as to turn the balance of trade in our favour, and thereby fetch the 
money back again." (1. c, pp. 43, 44.) 

2 That the price of each single kind of commodity forms a part of the 
sum of the prices of all the commodities in circulation, is a self-evident 
proposition. But how use-values, which are incommensurable with regard to 
each other, are to be exchanged, en masse, for the total sum of gold and silver 
in a country, is quite incomprehensible. If we start from the notion that all 
commodities together form one single commodity, of which each is but an 
aliquot part, we get the following beautiful result: The total commodity=x 
cwt. of gold; commodity A=an aliquot part of the total commodity =the 
same aliquot part of x cwt. of gold. This is stated in all seriousness by Mon- 
tesquieu: "Si Ton compare la masse de Tor et de l'argent qui est dans le 
monde avec la somme des marchandises qui y sont, il est certain que chaque 
denree ou marchandise, en particulier, pourra etre comparee a une certaine 
portion de la masse entiere. Supposons qu'il n'y ait qu'une seule denree, ou 
marchandise dans le monde, ou qu'il n'y ait qu'une seule qui s'achete, et qu' 
eile se divise comme l'argent: Cette partie de cette marchandise repondra a 
une partie de la masse de l'argent; la moitie du total de l'une a la moilie 
du total de l'autre, &c. ... l'etablissement du prix des choses depend ton jours 
fondamentalement de la raison du total des choses au total des signes." (Mon- 
tesquieu, I. c. t. Ill, pp. 12, 13.) As to the further development of this theory 
by Ricardo and his disciples, James Mill, Lord Overstone, and others, see 


the establishment of a standard of prices, is the business of the 
State. The different national uniforms worn at home by gold and 
silver as coins, and doffed again in the market of the world, indi- 
cate the separation between the internal or national spheres of 
the circulation of commodities, and their universal sphere. 

The only difference, therefore, between coin and bullion, is 
one of shape, and gold can at any time pass from one form to 
the other. 1 But no sooner does coin leave the mint, than it im- 
mediately finds itself on the high-road to the melting pot. During 
their currency, coins wear away, some more, others less. Name 
and substance, nominal weight and real weight, begin their 
process of separation. Coins of the same denomination become 
different in value, because they are different in weight. The 
weight of gold fixed upon as the standard of prices, deviates 
from the weight that serves as the circulating medium, and the 

"Zur Kritik, &c," pp. 140-146, and p. 150, sqq. John Stuart Mill, with 
his usual eclectic logic, understands how to hold at the same time the view 
of his father, James Mill, and the opposite view. On a comparison of the 
text of his compendium, "Principles of Pol. Econ.," with his preface to the 
first edition, in which preface he announces himself as the Adam Smith 
of his day— we do not know whether to admire more the simplicity of the 
man, or that of the public, who took him, in good faith, for the Adam Smith 
he announced himself to be, although he bears about as much resemblance 
to Adam Smith as say General Williams, of Kars, to the Duke of Wellington. 
The original researches of Mr. J. S. Mill, which are neither extensive nor 
profound, in the domain of Political Economy, will be found mustered in 
rank and file in his little work, "Some Unsettled Questions of Political 
Economy," which appeared in 1844. Locke asserts point blank the connex- 
ion between the absence of value in gold and silver, and the determination 
of their values by quantity alone. "Mankind having consented to put an 
imaginary value upon gold and silver ... the intrinsick value, regarded in 
these metals, is nothing but the quantity." ("Some Considerations," &c, 
1691, Works Ed. 1777, vol. II., p. 15.) 

1 It lies, of course, entirely beyond my purpose to take into considera- 
tion such details as the seigniorage on minting. I will, however, cite for the 
benefit of the romantic sycophant, Adam Miiller, who admires the "generous 
liberality" with which the English Government coins gratuitously, the fol- 
lowing opinion of Sir Dudley North: "Silver and gold, like other commodi- 
ties, have their ebbings and flowings. Upon the arrival of quantities from 
Spain ... it is carried into the Tower, and coined. Not long after there will 
come a demand for bullion to be exported again. If there is none, but all 
happens to be in coin, what then? Melt it down again; there's no loss in it, 
for the coining costs the owner nothing. Thus the nation has been abused, 
and made to pay for the twisting of straw for asses to eat. If the merchant 
were made to pay the price of the coinage, he would not have sent his silver 
to the Tower without consideration; and coined money would always keep 
a value above uncoined silver." (North, 1. c, p. 18.) North was himself one 
of the foremost merchants in the reign of Charles II. 


latter thereby ceases any longer to be a real equivalent of the com- 
modities whose prices it realises. The history of coinage during 
the middle ages and down into the 18th century, records the ever 
renewed confusion arising from this cause. The natural tendency 
of circulation to convert coins into a mere semblance of what they 
profess to be, into a symbol of the weight of metal they are offi- 
cially supposed to contain, is recognised by modern legislation, 
which fixes the loss of weight sufficient to demonetise a gold coin, 
or to make it no longer legal tender. 

The fact that the currency of coins itself effects a separation 
between their nominal and their real weight, creating a distinc- 
tion between them as mere pieces of metal on the one hand, and 
as coins with a definite function on the other — this fact implies 
the latent possibility of replacing metallic coins by tokens of some 
other material, by symbols serving the same purposes as coins. 
The practical difficulties in the way of coining extremely minute 
quantities of gold or silver, and the circumstance that at first 
the less precious metal is used as a measure of value instead of 
the more precious, copper instead of silver, silver instead of gold, 
and that the less precious circulates as money until dethroned by 
the more precious— all these facts explain the parts historically 
played by silver and copper tokens as substitutes for gold coins. 
Silver and copper tokens take the place of gold in those regions 
of the circulation where coins pass from hand to hand most rapid- 
ly, and are subject to the maximum amount of wear and tear. 
This occurs where sales and purchases on a very small scale are 
continually happening. In order to prevent these satellites from 
establishing themselves permanently in the place of gold, positive 
enactments determine the extent to which they must be compul- 
sorily received as payment instead of gold. The particular tracks 
pursued by the different species of coin in currency, run naturally 
into each other. The tokens keep company with gold, to pa) frac- 
tional parts of the smallest gold coin; gold is, on the one hand, con- 
stantly pouring into retail circulation, and on the other hand is as 
constantly being thrown out again by being changed into tokens. * 
The weight of metal in the silver and copper tokens is arbi- 
trarily fixed by law. When in currency, they wear away even 
more rapidly than gold coins. Hence their functions are totally 
independent of their weight, and consequently of all value. The 
function of gold as coin becomes completely independent of the 
metallic value of that gold. Therefore things tljat are relatively 

1 "If silver never exceed what is wanted tor the smaller payments, it 
cannot be collected in sufficient quantities ioi the larger payments ... the 


without value, such as paper notes, can serve as coins in its 
place. This purely symbolic character is to a certain extent masked 
in metal tokens. In paper money it stands out plainly. In fact, 
ce n'est que le premier pas qui coute. 

We allude here only to inconvertible paper money issued by 
the State and having compulsory circulation. It has its immediate 
origin in the metallic currency. Money based upon credit implies 
on the other hand conditions, which, from our standpoint of the 
simple circulation of commodities, are as yet totally unknown 
to us. But we may affirm this much, that just as true paper money 
takes its rise in the function of money as the circulating medium, 
so money based upon credit takes root spontaneously in the func- 
tion of money as the means of payment. 1 

The State puts in circulation bits of paper on which their 
various denominations, say £1, £5, &c, are printed. In so far 
as they actually take the place of gold to the same amount, their 
movement is subject to the laws that regulate the currency of 
money itself. A law peculiar to the circulation of paper money 
can spring up only from the proportion in which that paper 
money represents gold. Such a law exists; stated simply, it is as 
follows: the issue of paper money must not exceed in amount 
the gold (or silver as the case may be) which would actually 

use of gold in the main payments necessarily implies also its use in the re- 
tail trade: those who have gold coin offering them for small purchases, and 
receiving with the commodity purchased a balance of silver in return; by 
which means the surplus of silver that would otherwise encumber the retail 
dealer, is drawn off and dispersed into general circulation. But if there is 
as much silver as will transact the small payments independent of gold, the 
retail trader must then receive silver for small purchases; and it must of neces- 
sity accumulate in his hands." (David Buchanan "Inquiry into the Taxation 
and Commercial Policy of Great Britain." Edinburgh, 1844, pp. 248, 249.) 
1 The mandarin Wan-mao-in, the Chinese Chancellor of the Exchequer, 
took it into his head one day to lay before the Son of Heaven a proposal 
that secretly aimed at converting the asstgnats of the empire into convert- 
ible bank-notes. The assignats Committee, in its report of April, 1854, 
gives him a severe snubbing Whether he also received the traditional drub- 
bing with bamboos is not stated. The concluding part of the report is as 
follows: — "The Committee has carefully examined his proposal and finds 
that it is entirely in favour of the merchants, and that no advantage will 
result to the crown." ("Arbeiten der Kaiserlich Russischen Gesandtschaft zu 
Peking iiber China." Aus dem Russischen von Dr. K Abel und F. A Mecklen- 
burg. Erster Band Berlin, 1858, p. 47 sq.) In his evidence before the Com- 
mittee of the House of Lords on the Bank Acts, a governor of the Bank of 
England says, with regard to the abrasion of gold coins during currency: 
"Every year a fresh class of sovereigns becomes too light. The class which 
one year passes with full weight, loses enough by wear and tear to draw the 
scales next year against it." (House of Lords' Committee, 1848, n. 429.) 


circulate if not replaced by symbols. Now the quantity of gold 
which the circulation can absorb, constantly fluctuates about a 
given level. Still, the mass of the circulating medium in a given 
country never sinks below a certain minimum easily ascertained by 
actual experience. The fact that this minimum mass continually un- 
dergoes changes in its constituent parts, or that the pieces of gold 
of which it consists are being constantly replaced by fresh ones, 
causes of course no change either in its amount or in the continuity 
of its circulation. It can therefore be replaced by paper symbols. 
If, on the other hand, all the conduits of circulation were to-day 
filled with paper money to the full extent of their capacity for 
absorbing money, they might to-morrow be overflowing in con- 
sequence of a fluctuation in the circulation of commodities. 
There would no longer be any standard. If the paper money 
exceed its proper limit, which is the amount in gold coins of the 
like denomination that can actually be current, it would, apart 
from the danger of falling into general disrepute, represent only 
that quantity of gold, which, in accordance with the laws of the 
circulation of commodities, is required, and is alone capable of 
being represented by paper. If the quantity of paper money issued 
be double what it ought to be, then, as a matter of fact, £1 would 

1 1 

be the money-name not of -r of an ounce, but of -~ of an ounce 

of gold. The effect would be the same as if an alteration had taken 
place in the function of gold as a standard of prices. Those values 
that were previously expressed by the price of £1 would now be 
expressed by the price of £2. 

Paper money is a token representing gold or money. The 
relation between it and the values of commodities is this, that 
the latter are ideally expressed in the same quantities of gold 
that are symbolically represented by the paper. Only in so far as 
paper money represents gold, which like all other commodities 
has value, is it a symbol of value. x 

Finally, some one may ask why gold is capable of being 
replaced by tokens that have no value? But, as we have already 
seen, it is capable of being so replaced only in so far as it functions 
exclusively as coin, or as the circulating medium, and as nothing 
else. Now, money has other functions besides this one, and the 
isolated function of serving as the mere circulating medium is 
not necessarily the only one attached to gold coin, although this 

1 The following passage from Fullarton shows the want of clearness 
on the part of even the best writers on money, in their comprehension of its 
various functions: "That, as far as concerns our domestic exchanges, all the 


is the case with those abraded coins that continue to circulate. 
Each piece of money is a mere coin, or means of circulation, only 
so long as it actually circulates. But this is just the case with that 
minimum mass of gold, which is capable of being replaced by 
paper money. That mass remains constantly within the sphere 
of circulation, continually functions as a circulating medium, and 
exists exclusively for that purpose. Its movement therefore 
represents nothing but the continued alternation of the inverse 
phases of the metamorphosis G— M— C, phases in which commodi- 
ties confront their value-forms, only to disappear again immedi- 
ately. The independent existence of the exchange-value of a com- 
modity is here a transient apparition, by means of which the com- 
modity is immediately replaced by another commodity. Hence, 
in this process which continually makes money pass from hand 
to hand, the mere symbolical existence of money suffices. Its 
functional existence absorbs, so to say, its material existence. 
Being a transient and objective reflex of the prices of commodi- 
ties, it serves only as a symbol of itself, and is therefore capable 
of being replaced by a token. l One thing is, however, requisite; 
this token must have an objective social validity of its own, 
and this the paper symbol acquires by its forced currency. This 
compulsory action of the State can take effect only within that 
inner sphere of circulation which is co-terminous with the terri- 
tories of the community, but it is also only within that sphere 
that money completely responds to its function of being the cir^ 
culating medium, or becomes coin. 

monetary functions which are usually performed by gold and silver coins, 
may be performed as effectually by a circulation of inconvertible notes, 
having no value but that factitious and conventional value they derive 
from the law, is a fact which admits, I conceive, of no denial. Value of this 
description may be made to answer all the purposes of intrinsic value, and 
supersede even the necessity for a standard, provided only the quantity of 
issues be kept under due limitation." (Fullarton: "Regulation of Currencies," 
London, 1845, p. 21.) Because the commodity that serves as money is ca- 
pable of being replaced in circulation by mere symbols of value, therefore 
its functions as a measure of value and a standard of prices are declared to 
be superfluous! 

1 From the fact that gold and silver, so far as they are coins, or exclu- 
sively serve as the medium of circulation, become mere tokens of themselves, 
Nicholas Barbon deduces the right of Governments 'to raise money," that 
is, to give to the weight of silver that is called a shilling the name of a 
greater weight, such as a crown; and so to pay creditors shillings, instead of 
crowns "Money does wear and grow lighter by often telling over... It is the 
denomination and currency of the money that men regard in bargaining, and 
not the quantity of silver... Tis the public authority upon the metal that 
makes it money." (N. Barbon, 1. c. f pp 29, 30, 25.) 



The commodity that functions as a measure of value, and, 
either in its own person or by a representative, as the medium 
of circulation, is money. Gold (or silver) is therefore money. It 
functions as money, on the one hand, when it has to be present 
in its own golden person. It is then, the money-commodity, nei- 
ther merely ideal, as in its function of a measure of value, nor 
capable of being represented, as in its function of circulating 
medium. On the other hand, it also functions as money, when by 
virtue of its function, whether that function be performed in per- 
son or by representative, it congeals into the sole form of value, 
the only adequate form of existence of exchange-value, in opposi- 
tion to use-value, represented by all other commodities. 

a. Hoarding 

The continual movement in circuits of the two antithetical 
metamorphoses of commodities, or the never ceasing alternation 
of sale and purchase, is reflected in the restless currency of money, 
or in the function that money performs of a perpetuum mobile 
of circulation. But so soon as the series of metamorphoses is in- 
terrupted, so soon as sales are not supplemented by subsequent 
purchases, money ceases to be mobilised; it is transformed, as 
Boisgiuillebensays, from "meuble" into "immeuble," from mov- 
able into immovable, from coin into money. 

With the very earliest development of the circulation of 
commodities, there is also developed the necessity, and the pas- 
sionate desire, to hold fast the product of the first metamorphosis. 
This product is the transformed shape of the commodity, or its 
gold-chrysalis. l Commodities are thus sold not for the purpose 
of buying others, but in order to replace their commodity-form 
by their money-form. From being the mere means of effecting 
the circulation of commodities, this change of form becomes the 
end and aim. The changed form of the commodity is thus pre- 
vented from functioning as its unconditionally alienable form, or 
as its merely transient money-form. The money becomes petri- 
fied into a hoard, and the seller becomes a hoarder of money. 

In the early stages of the circulation of commodities, it is 
the surplus use-values alone that are converted into money. 

1 "Une richesse en argent n'est que... richesse en^productiohs, conver- 
ges en argent." (Mercier de la Riviere, 1. c.) "Une valeur en productions n'a 
fait que changer de forme." (Id., p. 486.) 


Gold and silver thus become of themselves social expressions 
for superfluity or wealth. This naive form of hoarding becomes 
perpetuated in those communities in which the traditional mode 
of production is carried on for the supply of a fixed and limited 
circle of home wants. It is thus with the people of Asia, and partic- 
ularly of the East Indies. Vanderlint, who fancies that the prices 
of commodities in a country are determined by the quantity 
of gold and silver to be found in it, asks himself why Indian com- 
modities are so cheap. Answer: Because the Hindus bury their 
money. From 1602 to 1734, he remarks, they buried 150 millions 
of pounds sterling of silver, which originally came from America 
to Europe. x In the 10 years from 1856 to 1866, England exported 
to India and China £120,000,000 in silver, which had been re- 
ceived in exchange for Australian gold. Most of the silver exported 
to China makes its way to India. 

As the production of commodities further develops, every 
producer of commodities is compelled to make sure of the nexus 
rerum or the social pledge. 2 His wants are constantly making 
themselves felt, and necessitate the continual purchase of other 
people's commodities, while the production and sale of his own 
goods require time, and depend upon circumstances. In order then to 
be able to buy without selling, he must have sold previously without 
buying. This operation, conducted on a general scale, appears to 
imply a contradiction. But the precious metals at the sources 
of their production are directly exchanged for other commodities. 
And here we have sales (by the owners of commodities) without 
purchases (by the owners of gold or silver). 3 And subsequent 
sales, by other producers, unfollowed by purchases, merely bring 
about the distribution of the newly produced precious metals 
among all the owners of commodities. In this way, all along 
the line of exchange, hoards of gold and silver of varied extent 
are accumulated. With the possibility of holding and storing 
up exchange-value in the shape of a particular commodity, 
arises also the greed for gold. Along with the extension of 
circulation, increases the power of money, that absolutely social 
form of wealth ever ready for use. "Gold is a wonderful thing! 
Whoever possesses it is lord of all he wants. By means oi 

1 "Tis by this practice they keep all their goods and manufactures at 
such low rates." (Vanderlint, 1. c, pp. 95, 96.) 

2 "Money ... is a pledge." (John Bellers: "Essays about the Poor, Manu- 
factures, Trade, Plantations, and Immorality," Lond., 1699, p. 13.) 

3 A purchase, in a "categorical" sense, implies that gold and silver are 
already the converted form of commodities, or the product of a sale. 


gold one can even get souls into Paradise." (Columbus in his 
letter from Jamaica, 1503.) Since gold does not disclose what 
has been transformed into it, everything, commodity or not, 
is convertible into gold. Everything becomes saleable and buyable. 
The circulation becomes the great social retort into which every- 
thing is thrown, to come out again as a gold-crystal. Not even are 
the bones of saints, and still less are more delicate res sacrosan- 
cta?, extra commercium hominum able to withstand this alchemy. 1 
Just as every qualitative difference between commodities is ex- 
tinguished in money, so money, on its side, like the radical leveller 
that it is, does away with all distinctions. 2 But money itself is a 
commodity, an external object, capable of becoming the private 
property of any individual. Thus social power becomes the private 
power of private persons. The ancients therefore denounced money 
as subversive of the economic and moral order of things. 3 Modern 
society, which, soon after its birth, pulled Plutus by the hair of 

1 Henry III., most Christian king of France, robbed cloisters of their 
relics, and turned them into money. It is well known what part the despoil- 
ing of the Delphic Temple, by the Phocians, played in the history of Greece. 
Temples with the ancients served as the dwellings of the gods of commodi- 
ties. They were "sacred banks." With the Phoenicians, a trading people par 
excellence, money was the transmuted shape of everything. It was, there- 
fore, quite in order that the virgins, who, at the feast of the Goddess of Love, 
gave themselves up to strangers, should offer to the goddess the piece of 
money they received. 

2 "Gold, yellow, glittering, precious gold! 

Thus much of this, will make black white; foul, fair; 

Wrong, right; base, noble; old, young; coward, valiant. 

... What this, you gods? Why, this 

Will lug your priests and servants from your sides; 

Pluck stout men's pillows from below their heads; 

This yellow slave 

Will knit and break religions; bless the accurs'd; 

Make the hoar leprosy ador'd; place thieves, 

And give them title, knee and approbation, 

With senators on the bench; this is it, 

That makes the wappen'd widow wed again: 

... Come damned earth, 

Thou common whore of mankind." 

(Shakespeare: Timon of Athens.) 
3 "Oo5sv ydp avOpcmroiaiv otv ap*ft>po<; 

Kaxov voptiajia tfUaate- touto xai n6Xgt<; 

IIopQel, x68' avopa<; eSavtaTTjaiv 66[ia>v. 

Tod' IxStoiaxet xai rcapaMaaaei cppsvcn; 

XpTpxdq Ttpo? a tap a av9p<ott0t<; /ptv, 

Kai rccmdi; ip^oo Suaaejietav ei<5evat." 

(Sophocles, Antigone.) 


his head from the bowels of the earth, 1 greets gold as its Holy Grail, 
as the glittering incarnation of the very principle of its own life. 

A commodity, in its capacity of a use-value, satisfies a par- 
ticular want, and is a particular element of material wealth. 
But the value of a commodity measures the degree of its attraction 
for all other elements of material wealth, and therefore measures 
the social wealth of its owner. To a barbarian owner of commodi- 
ties, and even to a West-European peasant, value is the same as 
value-form, and therefore, to him the increase in his hoard of 
gold and silver is an increase in value. It is true that the value 
of money varies, at one time in consequence of a variation in its 
own value, at another, in consequence of a change in the values 
of commodities. But this, on the one hand, does not prevent 
200 ounces of gold from still containing more value than 100 
ounces, nor, on the other hand, does it hinder the actual metallic 
form of this article from continuing to be the universal equiva- 
lent form of all other commodities, and the immediate social 
incarnation of all human labour. The u:sire after hoarding is 
in its very nature unsatiable. In its qualitative aspect, or formally 
considered, money has no bounds to its efficacy, i.e., it is the 
universal representative of material wealth, because it is directly 
convertible into any other commodity. But, at the same time, 
every actual sum of money is limited in amount, and, therefore, 
as a means of purchasing, has only a limited efficacy. This antago- 
nism between the quantitative limits of money and its qualita- 
tive boundlessness, continually acts as a spur to the hoarder in his 
Sisyphus-like labour of accumulating. It is with him as it is 
with a conqueror who sees in every new country annexed, only 
a new boundary. 

In order that gold may be held as money, and made to form 
a hoard, it must be prevented from circulating, or from trans- 
forming itself into a means of enjoyment. The hoarder, therefore, 
makes a sacrifice of the lusts of the flesh to his gold fetish. He 
acts in earnest up to the Gospel of abstention. On the other hand, 
he can withdraw from circulation no more than what he has 
thrown into it in the shape of commodities. The more he produces, 
the more he is able to sell. Hard work, saving, and avarice, are, 
therefore, his three cardinal virtues, and to sell much and buy 
little the sum of his political economy. 2 

1 "'EXiuCouot)? Trj$ 7iXeove$ta<; dva$eiv ix xuiv |iuxu>v tyj<; *f"?i<; a-JTov tov IUoutcova" 
(Athen. Deipnos.) 

2 "Accrescere quanto pill si pu6 il numero de'venditori d'ogrii merce, 
diminuere quanto piu si pud il numero dei compratori, questi sono i cardini 


By the side of the gross form of a hoard, we find also its 
aesthetic form in the possession of gold and silver articles. This 
grows with the wealth of civil society. "Soyons riches ou parais- 
sons riches" (Diderot). In this way there is created, on the one 
hand, a constantly extending market for gold and silver, uncon- 
nected with their functions as money, and, on the other hand, a 
latent source of supply, to which recourse is had principally in 
times of crisis and social disturbance. 

Hoarding serves various purposes in the economy of the met- 
allic circulation. Its first function arises out of the conditions 
to which the currency of gold and silver coins is subject. We 
have seen how, along with the continual fluctuations in the ex- 
tent and rapidity of the circulation of commodities and in their 
prices, the quantity of money current unceasingly ebbs and flows. 
This mass must, therefore, be capable of expansion and contrac- 
tion. At one time money must be attracted in order to act as 
circulating coin, at another, circulating coin must be repelled 
in order to act again as more or less stagnant money. In order 
that the mass of money, actually current, may constantly saturate 
the absorbing power of the circulation, it is necessary that the 
quantity of gold and silver in a country be greater than the quan- 
tity required to function as coin. This condition is fulfilled by 
money taking the form of hoards. These reserves serve as con- 
duits for the supply or withdrawal of money to or from the circu- 
lation, which in this way never overflows its banks. x 

b. Means of Payment 

In the simple form of the circulation of commodities hitherto 
considered, we found a given value always presented to us in a 
double shape, as a commodity at one pole, as money at the oppo- 
site pole. The owners of commodities came therefore into contact 
as the respective representatives of what were already equivalents. 
But with the development of circulation, conditions arise under 
which the alienation of commodities becomes separated, by an 

sui quali si raggirauo tutte le operazioni di economia politica." (Verri, 
1. c, p. 52.) 

1 "There is required for carrying on the trade of the nation a determi- 
nate sum of specifick money, which varies, and is sometimes more, some- 
times less, as the circumstances we are in require.... This ebbing and flowing 
of money supplies and accommodates itself, without any aid of Politicians.... 
The buckets work alternately; when money is scarce, bullion is coined; when 
bullion is scarce, money is melted." (Sir D. North, 1. c, Postscript, p. 3.) 
John Stuart Mill, who for a long time was an official of the East India Com- 


interval of time, from the realisation of their prices. It will 
be sufficient to indicate the most simple of these conditions. 
One sort of article requires a longer, another a shorter time for 
its production. Again, the production of different commodities 
depends on different seasons of the year. One sort of commodity 
may be born on its own market place, another has to make a long 
journey to market. Commodity-owner No. 1, may therefore be 
ready to sell, before No. 2 is ready to buy. When the same trans- 
actions are continually repeated between the same persons, the 
conditions of sale are regulated in accordance with the conditions 
of production. On the other hand, the use of a given commodity, 
of a house, for instance, is sold (in common parlance, let) for a 
definite period. Here, it is only at the end of the term that the 
buyer has actually received the use-value of the commodity. He 
therefore buys it before he pays for it. The vendor sells an exist- 
ing commodity, the purchaser buys as the mere representative 
of money, or rather of future money. The vendor becomes a cred- 
itor, the purchaser becomes a debtor. Since the metamorphosis 
of commodities, or the development of their value-form, appears 
here under a new aspect, money also acquires a fresh function; 
it becomes the means of payment. 

The character of creditor, or of debtor, results here from the 
simple circulation. The change in the form of that circulation 
stamps buyer and seller with this new die. At first, therefore, 
these new parts are just as transient and alternating as those of 
seller and buyer, and are in turns played by the same actors. 
But the opposition is not nearly so pleasant, and is far more 
capable of crystallisation. x The same characters can, however, 
be assumed independently of the circulation of commodities. 
The class-struggles of the ancient world took the form chiefly 
of a contest between debtors and creditors, which in Rome ended 
in the ruin of the plebeian debtors. They were displaced by slaves. 
In the middle ages the contest ended with the ruin of the feudal 

pany, confirms the fact that in India silver ornaments still continue to per- 
form directly the functions of a hoard. The silver ornaments are brought 
out and coined when there is a high rate of interest, and go back again when 
the rate of interest falls. (J. S. Mill's Evidence. "Reports on Bank Acts," 
1857, 2084.) According to a Parliamentary document of 1864, on the gold 
and silver import and export of India, the import of gold and silver in 1863 
exceeded the export by £ 19,367,764. During the 8 years immediately pre- 
ceding 1864, the excess of imports over exports of the precious metals amount- 
ed to £109,652,917. During this century far more than £200,000,000 has 
been coined in India. 

1 The following shows the debtor and creditor relations existing be- 
tween English traders at the beginning of the 18th century. "Such a spirit of 


debtors, who lost their political power together with the economic 
basis on which it was established. Nevertheless, the money 
relation of debtor and creditor that existed at these two periods 
reflected only the deeper-lying antagonism between the general 
economic conditions of existence of the classes in question. 

Let us return to the circulation of commodities. The appear- 
ance of the two equivalents, commodities and money, at the t'svo 
poles of the process of sale, has ceased to be simultaneous. The 
money functions now, first as a measure of value in the determi- 
nation of the price of the commodity sold; the price fixed by 
the contract measures the obligation of the debtor, or the sum of 
money that he has to pay at a fixed date. Secondly, it serves as 
an ideal means of purchase. Although existing only in the promise 
of the buyer to pay, it causes the commodity to change hands. 
It is not before the day fixed for payment that the means of pay- 
ment actually steps into circulation, leaves the hand of the buyer 
for that of the seller. The circulating medium was transformed 
into a hoard, because the process stopped short after the first 
phase, because the converted shape of the commodity, viz., the 
money, was withdrawn from circulation. The means of payment 
enters the circulation, but only after the commodity has left 
it. The money is no longer the means that brings about the process. 
It only brings it to a close, by stepping in as the absolute form of 
existence of exchange-value, or as the universal commodity. The 
seller turned his commodity into money, in order thereby to satisfy 
some want; the hoarder did the same in order to keep his commodity 
in its money-shape, and the debtor in order to be able to pay; 
if he do not pay, his goods will be sold by the sheriff. The value- 
form of commodities, money, is therefore now the end and aim 
of a sale, and that owing to a social necessity springing out of 
the process of circulation itself. 

The buyer converts money back into commodities before he 
has turned commodities into money: in other words, he achieves 
the second metamorphosis of commodities before the first. The 
seller's commodity circulates, and realises its price, but only in 
the shape of a legal claim upon money. It is converted into a 
use-value before it has been converted into money. The completion 
of its first metamorphosis follows only at a later period. 1 

cruelty reigns here in England among the men of trade, that is not to be 
met with in any other society of men, nor in any other kingdom of the world." 
("An Essay on Credit and the Bankrupt Act," Lond., 1707, p. 2.) 

1 It will be seen from the following quotation from my book which 
appeared in 1859, why I take no notice in the text of an opposite form: 


The obligations falling due within a given period, represent 
the sum of the prices of the commodities, the sale of which gave 
rise to those obligations. The quantity of gold necessary to realise 
this sum, depends, in the first instance, on the rapidity of currency 
of the means of payment. That quantity is conditioned by two 
circumstances: first the relations between debtors and creditors 
form a sort of chain, in such a way that A, when he receives money 
from his debtor B, straightway hands it over to G his creditor, 
and so on; the second circumstance is the length of the intervals 
between the different due-days of the obligations. The continuous 
chain of payments, or retarded first metamorphoses, is essentially 
different from that interlacing of the series of metamorphoses 
which we considered on a former page. By the currency of the 
circulating medium, the connexion between buyers and sellers, 
is not merely expressed. This connexion is originated by, and 
exists in, the circulation alone. Contrariwise, the movement of 
the means of payment expresses a social relation that was in 
existence long before. 

The fact that a number of sales take place simultaneously, 
and side by side, limits the extent to which coin can be replaced 
by the rapidity of currency. On the other hand, this fact is a new 
lever in economising the means of payment. In proportion as 
payments are concentrated at one spot, special institutions and 
methods are developed for their liquidation. Such in the middle 
ages were the virements at Lyons. The debts due to A from B, 
to B from C, to G from A, and so on, have only to be confronted 
with each other, in order to annul each other to a certain extent 
like positive and negative quantities. There thus remains only 
a single balance to pay. The greater the amount of the payments 
concentrated, the less is this balance relatively to that amount, 
and the less is the mass of the means of payment in circula- 

The function of money as the means of payment implies a 
contradiction without a terminus medius. In so far as the 

"Contrariwise, in the process M — G, the money can be alienated as a real 
means of purchase, and in that way, the price of the commodity can be 
realised before the use-value of the money is realised and the commodity 
actually delivered. This occurs constantly under the every-day form of pre- 
payments. And it is under this form, that the English government purchases 
opium from the ryots of India.... In these cases, however, the money always 
acts as a means of purchase.... Of course capital also is advanced in the 
shape of money.... This point of view, however, does not fall within the 
horizon of simple circulation." ("Zur Kritik, &c," pp. 119, 120.) 


payments balance one another, money functions only ideally as 
money of account, as a measure of value. In so far as actual pay- 
ments have to be made, money does not serve as a circulating 
medium, as a mere transient agent in the interchange of products, 
but as the individual incarnation of social labour, as the inde- 
pendent form of existence of exchange-value, as the universal com- 
modity. This contradiction comes to a head in those phases of indus- 
trial and commercial crises which are known as monetary crises. 1 
Such a crisis occurs only where the ever-lengthening chain of 
payments, and an artificial system of settling them, has been 
fully developed. Whenever there is a general and extensive dis- 
turbance of this mechanism, no matter what its cause, money 
becomes suddenly and immediately transformed, from its merely 
ideal shape of money of account, into hard cash. Profane commodi- 
ties can no longer replace it. The use-value of commodities be- 
comes valueless, and their value vanishes in the presence of its own 
independent form. On the eve of the crisis, the bourgeois, with 
the self-sufficiency that springs from intoxicating prosperity, 
declares money to be a vain imagination. Commodities alone are 
money. But now the cry is everywhere: money alone is a commod- 
ity! As the hart pants after fresh water, so pants his soul after 
money, the only wealth. 2 In a crisis, the antithesis between com- 
modities and their value-form, money, becomes heightened into 
an absolute contradiction. Hence, in such events, the form under 
which money appears is of no importance. The money famine 
continues, whether payments have to be made in gold or in 
credit money such as bank-notes. 3 

1 The monetary crisis referred to in the text, being a phase of every 
crisis, must be clearly distinguished from that particular form of crisis, which 
also is called a monetary crisis, but which may be produced by itself as an 
independent phenomenon in such a way as to react only indirectly on indus- 
try and commerce. The pivot of these crises is to be found in moneyed capi- 
tal, and their sphere of direct action is therefore the sphere of that capital, 
viz., banking, the stock exchange, and finance. 

2 "The sudden reversion from a system of credit to a system of hard 
cash heaps theoretical fright on top of the practical panic; and the dealers 
by whose agency circulation is affected, shudder before the impenetrable 
mystery in which their own economic relations are involved" (Karl Marx, 
1. c, p. 126). "The poor stand still, because the rich have no money to em- 
ploy them, though they have the same land and hands to provide victuals 
and clothes, as ever they had;... which is the true Riches of a Nation, and not 
the money." (John Bellers: "Proposals for Raising a Colledge of Industry." 
Lond. 1696, p. 3.) 

3 The following shows how such times are exploited by the "amis 
du commerce." "On one occasion (1839) an old grasping banker (in the city) 


If we now consider the sum total of the money current dur- 
ing a given period, we shall find that, given the rapidity of cur- 
rency of the circulating medium and of the means of payment, 
it is equal to the sum of the prices to be realised, plus the sum of 
the payments falling due, minus the payments that balance each 
other, minus finally the number of circuits in which the same 
piece of coin serves in turn as means of circulation and of payment. 
Hence, even when prices, rapidity of currency, and the extent 
of the economy in payments, are given, the quantity of money 
current and the mass of commodities circulating during a given 
period, such as a day, no longer correspond. Money that represents 
commodities long withdrawn from circulation, continues to be 
current. Commodities circulate, whose equivalent in money 
will not appear on the scene till some future day. Moreover, the 
debts contracted each day, and the payments falling due on the 
same day, are quite incommensurable quantities. 1 

Credit-money springs directly out of the function of money 
as a means of payment. Certificates of the debts owing for the 
purchased commodities circulate for the purpose of transferring 
those debts to others. On the other hand, to the same extent as 
the system of credit is extended, so is the function of money 
as a means of payment. In that character it takes various forms 
peculiar to itself under which it makes itself at home in the sphere 

in his private room raised the lid of the desk he sat over, and displayed to 
a friend rolls of bank-notes, saying with intense glee there were £ 600,000 
of them, they were held to make money tight, and would all be let out after 
three o'clock on the same day." ("The Theory of Exchanges. The Bank Charter 
Act of 1844." Lond. 1864, p. 81.) The Observer, a semi-official government 
organ, contained the following paragraph on 24th April, 1864: "Some very 
curious rumours are current of the means which have been resorted to in 
order to create a scarcity of bank-notes.... Questionable as it would seem, lo 
suppose that any trick of the kind would be adopted, the report has been so 
universal that it really deserves mention." 

1 "The amount of purchases or contracts entered upon during the course 
of any given day, will not affect the quantity of money afloat on that partic- 
ular day, but, in the vast majority of cases, will resolve themselves into 
multifarious drafts upon the quantity of money which may be afloat at sub- 
sequent dates more or less distant.... The bills granted or credits opened, 
to-day, need have no resemblance whatever, either in quantity, amount, or 
duration, to those granted or entered upon to-morrow .or next day; nay, 
many of to-day's bills, and credits, when due, fall in with a mass of liabil- 
ities whose origins traverse a range of antecedent dates altogether indefinite, 
bills at 12, 6, 3 months or 1 often aggregating together to swell the common 
liabilities of one particular day..." ("The Currency Theory Reviewed; in a 
Letter to the Scottish people." By a Banker in England. Edinburgh, 1845, 
pp. 29, 30 passim.) 


of great commercial transactions. Gold and silver coin, on the 
other hand, are mostly relegated to the sphere of retail trade. 1 
When the production of commodities has sufficiently ex- 
tended itself, money begins to serve as the means of payment 
beyond the sphere of the circulation of commodities. It becomes 
the commodity that is the universal subject-matter of all con- 
tracts. 2 Rents, taxes, and such like payments are transformed 
from payments in kind into money payments. To what extent 
this transformation depends upon the general conditions of pro- 
duction, is shown, to take one example, by the fact that the 
Roman Empire twice failed in its attempt to levy all contributions 
in money. The unspeakable misery of the French agricultural 
population under Louis XIV., a misery so eloquently denounced 
by Boisguillebert, Marshal Vauban, and others, was due not 
only to the weight of the taxes, but also to the conversion of taxes 
in kind into money taxes. 3 In Asia, on the other hand, the fact 
that state taxes are chiefly composed of rents payable in kind, 

1 As an example of how little ready money is required in true commer- 
cial operations, I give below a statement by one of the largest London houses 
of its yearly receipts and payments. Its transactions during the year 1856, 
extending to many millions of pounds sterling, are here reduced to the 
scale of one million. 

Receipts. Payments. 

Bankers' and Merchants' Bills payable after date, £302,674 
Bills payable after Cheques on London Bank- 
date, £533,596 ers 663,672 

Cheques on Bankers, &c, Bank of England Notes, 22,743 

payable on demand, 357,715 Gold, 9,427 

Country Notes, 9,627 Silver and Copper, . . . 1,484 

Bank of England Notes, 68,554 

Gold, 28,089 

Silver and Copper, . . 1.484 

Post Office Orders, . . 933 

Total, . . £1,000,000 Total, . . .£1,000,000 

"Report from the Select Committee on the Bank Acts, July, 1858," 
p. Ixxi. 

2 "The course of trade being thus turned, from exchanging of goods for 
goods, or delivering and taking, to selling and paying, all the bargains ... 
are now stated upon the foot of a Price in money." ("An Essay upon Publick 
Credit." 3rd Ed. Lond., 1710, p. 8.) 

8 "L'argent ... est devenu le bourreau de toutes choses." Finance is 
the "alambic, qui a fait evaporer une quantite effroyable de biens et de den- 
izes pour faire ce fatal precis." "L'argent declare la guerre a tout lc genre 


depends on conditions of production that are reproduced with 
the regularity of natural phenomena. And this mode of payment 
tends in its turn to maintain the ancient form of production. It 
is one of the secrets of the conservation of the Ottoman Empire. 
If the foreign trade, forced upon Japan by Europeans, should 
lead to the substitution of money rents for rents in kind, it will 
be all up with the exemplary agriculture of that country. The 
narrow economic conditions under which that agriculture is 
carried on, will be swept away. 

In every country, certain days of the year become by habit 
recognised settling days for various large and recurrent payments. 
These dates depend, apart from other revolutions in the wheel 
of reproduction, on conditions closely connected with the seasons. 
They also regulate the dates for payments that have no direct 
connexion with the circulation of commodities such as taxes, 
rents, and so on. The quantity of money requisite to make the 
payments, falling due on those dates all over the country, causes 
periodical, though merely superficial, perturbations in the economy 
of the medium of payment. 1 

From the law of the rapidity of currency of the means of 
payment, it follows that the quantity of the means of payment 
required for all periodical payments, whatever their source, is 
in inverse proportion to the length of their periods. 2 

humain." (Boisguillebert: "Dissertation sur la nature des richesses, de I'ar- 
gent et des tributs." Edit. Daire. Economistes financiers. Paris, 1843. 
t.i., pp. 413, 419, 417.) 

1 "On Whitsuntide, 1824," says Mr. Craig before the Commons' Com- 
mittee of 1826, "there was such an immense demand for notes upon the banks 
of Edinburgh, that by 11 o'clock they had not a note left in their custody. 
They sent round to all the different banks to borrow, but could not get them, 
and many of the transactions were adjusted by slips of paper only; yet by 
three o'clock the whole of the notes were returned into the banks from which 
they had issued! It was a mere transfer from hand to hand." Although Hie 
average effective circulation of bank-notes in Scotland is less than three 
millions sterling, yet on certain pay days in the year, every single note in 
the possession of the bankers, amounting in the whole to about £7,000,000, 
is called into activity. On these occasions the notes have a single and speci t- 
ic function to perform, and so soon as they have performed it, they flow back 
into the various banks from which they issued. (See John Fullarton, "Regu- 
lation of Currencies." Lond. 1845, p. 86, note.) In explanation it should he 
stated, that in Scotland, at the dateof Fullarton'swork, notes and not cheques 
were used to withdraw deposits. 

2 To the question, "If there were occasion to raise 40 millions p. a., 
whether the same 6 millions (gold)... would suffice for such revolutions and 
circulations thereof, as trade requires," Petty replies in his usual masterly 
manner, "I answer yes: for the expense being 40 millions, if the revolutions 


The development of money into a medium of payment makes 
it necessary to accumulate money against the dates fixed for 
the payment of the sums owing. While hoarding, as a distinct 
mode of acquiring riches, vanishes with the progress of civil so- 
ciety, the formation of reserves of the means of payment grows 
with that progress. 

c. Universal Money 

When money leaves the home sphere of circulation, it strips 
off the local garbs which it there assumes, of a standard of prices, 
of coin, of tokens, and of a symbol of value, and returns to its 
original form of bullion. In the trade between the markets of the 
world, the value of commodities is expressed so as to be univer- 
sally recognised. Hence their independent value-form also, in 
these cases, confronts them under the shape of universal money. 
It is only in the markets of the world that money acquires to the 
full extent the character of the commodity whose bodily form is 
also the immediate social incarnation of human labour in the 
abstract. Its real mode of existence in this sphere adequately 
corresponds to its ideal concept. 

Within the sphere of home circulation, there can be but one 
commodity which, by serving as a measure of value, becomes 
money. In the markets of the world a double measure of value 
holds sway, gold and silver. 1 

were in such short circles, viz., weekly, as happens among poor artisans 
and labourers, who receive and pay every Saturday, then -tk parts of 1 mil- 
lion of money would answer these ends; but if the circles be quarterly, ac- 
cording to our custom of paying rent, and gathering taxes, then 10 millions 
were requisite. Wherefore, supposing payments in general to be of a mixed 

circle between one week and 13, then add 10 millions to r^, the half of which 

will be 5-7p, so as if we have 5-y millions we have enough." (William Petty: 

"Political Anatomy of Ireland." 1672. Edit.: Lond. 1691, pp. 13, 14.) 

1 Hence the absurdity of every law prescribing that the banks of a 
country shall form reserves of that precious metal alone which circulates 
at home. The "pleasant difficulties" thus self-created by the Bank 
of England, are well known. On the subject of the great epochs in 
the history of the changes in the relative value of gold and silver, 
see Karl Marx, 1. c, p. 136 sq. Sir Robert Peel, by his Bank Act of 1844. 
sought to tide over the difficulty, by allowing the Bank of England 
to issue notes against silver bullion, on condition that the reserve of silver 
should never exceed more than one-fourth of the reserve of gold. The value 
of silver being for that purpose estimated at its price in the London market. 


Money of the world serves as the universal medium of pay- 
ment, as the universal means of purchasing, and as the univer- 
sally recognised embodiment of all wealth. Its function as a means 
of payment in the settling of international balances is its chief 
one. Hence the watchword of the mercantilists, balance of 
trade. * Gold and silver serve as international means of purchasing 

[Added in the 4th German edition. — We find ourselves once more in a period 
of serious change in the relative values of gold and silver. About 25 years 
ago the ratio expressing the relative value of gold and silver was 15-|-:1; 

now it is approximately 22:1, and silver is still constantly falling as against 
gold. This is essentially the result of a revolution in the mode of production 
of both metals. Formerly gold was obtained almost exclusively by washing 
it out from gold-bearing alluvial deposits, products of the weathering of au- 
riferous rocks. Now this method has become inadequate and has been forced 
into the background by the processing of the quartz lodes themselves, 
a way of extraction which formerly was only of secondary importance, al- 
though well known to the ancients (Diodorus, III, 12-14) (Diodor's v. 
Sicilien "Historische Bibliothek," book III, 12-14. Stuttgart 1828, pp. 258- 
261). Moreover, not only were new huge silver deposits discovered in North 
America, in the Western part of the Rocky Mountains, but these and the 
Mexican silver mines were really opened up by the laying of railways, which 
made possible the shipment of modern machinery and fuel and in consequence 
the mining of silver on a very large scale at a low cost. However, there is a great 
difference in the way the two metals occur in the quartz lodes. The gold is most- 
ly native, but disseminated throughout the quartz in minute quantities. The 
whole mass of the vein must therefore be crushed and the gold either washed 
out or extracted by means of mercury. Often 1,000,000 grammes of quartz 
barely yield 1-3 and very seldom 30-60 grammes of gold. Silver is seldom 
found native; however it occurs in special quartz that is separated from the 
lode with comparative ease and contains mostly 40-90% silver; or it is 
contained, in smaller quantities, in copper, lead and other ores which in 
themselves are worthwhile working. From this alone it is apparent that the 
labour expended on the production of gold is rather increasing while that 
expended on silver production has decidedly decreased, which quite natu- 
rally explains the drop in the value of the latter. This fall in value would 
express itself in a still greater fall in price if the price of silver were not 
pegged even to-day by artificial means. But America's rich silver deposits 
have so far barely been tapped, and thus the prospects are that the value of 
this metal will keep on dropping for rather a long time to come. A still great- 
er contributing factor here is the relative decrease in the requirement of 
silver for articles of general use and for luxuries, that is its replacement by 
plated goods, aluminium, etc. One may thus gauge the utopianism of the 
bimetallist idea that compulsory international quotation will raise silver 

again to the old value ratio of 1:15-^-. It is more likely that silver will for- 
feit its money function more and more in the markets of the world. — F. E.\ 
1 The opponents, themselves, of the mercantile system, a system which 
considered the settlement of surplus trade balances in gold and silver as the 
aim of international trade, entirely misconceived the functions of money of 
the world. I have shown by the example of Ricardo in what way their false 
conception of the laws that regulate the quantity of the circulating medium, 


chiefly and necessarily in those periods when the customary equi- 
librium in the interchange of products between different nations 
is suddenly disturbed. And lastly, it serves as the universally 
recognised embodiment of social wealth, whenever the question 
is not of buying or paying, but of transferring wealth from one 
country to another, and whenever this transference in the form 
of commodities is rendered impossible, either by special conjunc- 
tures in the markets, or by the purpose itself that is intended. l 
Just as every country needs a reserve of money for its home 
circulation, so, too, it requires one for external circulation in 
the markets of the world. The functions of hoards, therefore, 
arise in part out of the function of money, as the medium of the 
home circulation and home payments, and in part out of its 
function of money of the world. 2 For this latter function, the 
genuine money-commodity, actual gold and silver, is necessary. 
On that account, Sir James Steuart, in order to distinguish them 
from their purely local substitutes, calls gold and silver "money 
of the world." 

is reflected in their equally false conception of the international movement 
of the precious metals (1. c, pp. 150 sq.). His erroneous dogma: "An unfa- 
vourable balance of trade never arises but from a redundant currency.... The 
exportation of the coin is caused by its cheapness, and is not the effect, but 
the cause of an unfavourable balance," already occurs in Barbon: "The Bal- 
ance of Trade, if there be one, is not the cause of sending away the money 
out of a nation; but that proceeds from the difference of the value of bullion 
in every country." (N. Barbon; 1. c, pp. 59, 60.) AlacCulloch in "The Litera- 
ture of Political Economy, a classified catalogue, Lond. 1845," praises Bar- 
bon for this anticipation, but prudently passes over the naive forms, in which 
Barbon clothes the absurd supposition on which the "currency principle" is 
based. The absence of real criticism and even of honesty, in that catalogue 
culminates in the sections devoted to the history of the theory of money; 
the reason is that MacCulloch in this part of the work is flattering Lord Over- 
stone whom he calls "facile princeps argentariorum." 

1 For instance, in subsidies, money loans for carrying on wars or for 
enabling banks to resume cash payments, &c, it is the money-form, and no 
other, of value that may be wanted. 

2 "I would desire, indeed, no more convincing evidence of the compe- 
tency of the machinery of the hoards in specie-paying countries to perform 
every necessary office of international adjustment, without any sensible 
aid from the general circulation, than the facility with which France, when 
but just recovering from the shock of a destructive foreign invasion, complet- 
ed within the space of 27 months the payment of her forced contribution 
of nearly 20 millions to the allied powers, and a considerable proportion 
of the sum in specie, without any perceptible contraction or derangement of 
her domestic currency, or even any alarming fluctuation of her exchanges." 
(Fullarton, 1. c, p. 141.) [Added in the 4th German edition. — We have a 
still more striking example in the facility with whioh the same France was 
able in 1871-73 to pay off within 30 months a forced contribution more than 
ten times as great, a considerable part of it likewise in specie. — F E.\ 


The current of the stream of gold and silver is a double one. 
On the one hand, it spreads itself from its sources over all the 
markets of the world, in order to become absorbed, to various 
extents, into the different national spheres of circulation, to 
fill the conduits of currency, to replace abraded gold and silver 
coins, to supply the material of articles of luxury, and to petrify 
into hoards. 1 This first current is started by the countries that 
exchange their labour, realised in commodities, for the labour 
embodied in the precious metals by gold and silver-producing 
countries. On the other hand, there is a continual flowing back- 
wards and forwards of gold and silver between the different nation- 
al spheres of circulation, a current whose motion depends on the 
ceaseless fluctuations in the course of exchange. 2 

Countries in which the bourgeois form of production is de- 
veloped to a certain extent, limit the hoards concentrated in 
the strong rooms of the banks to the minimum required for the 
proper performance of their peculiar functions. 3 Whenever these 
hoards are strikingly above their average level, it is, with some 
exceptions, an indication of stagnation in the circulation of com- 
modities, of an interruption in the even flow of their metamor- 
phoses. 4 

1 "L'argent se partage entre les nations relativement au besoin qu'elles 
en ont ... etant toujours attire par les productions." (Le Trosne, 1. c, p. 916.) 
"The mines which are continually giving gold and silver, do give sufficient 
to supply such a needful balance to every nation." (J. Vanderlint, 1. c, p. 40.) 

2 "Exchanges rise and fall every week, and at some particular times 
in the year run high against a nation, and at other times run as high on the 
contrary." (N. Barbon, 1. c, p. 39.) 

3 These various functions are liable to come into dangerous conllict 
with one another whenever gold and silver have also to serve as a fund for 
the conversion of bank-notes. 

4 "What money is more than of absolute necessity for a Home Irade, 
is dead stock ... and brings no profit to that country it's kept in, but as it 
is transported in trade, as well as imported." (John Bellers, "Essays," p. 13.) 
"What if we have too much coin? We may melt down the heaviest and turn 
it into the splendour of plate, vessels or utensils of gold or silver; or send 
it out as a commodity, where the same is wanted or desired; or let it out at 
interest, where interest is high." (W. Petty: "Quantulumcunque " p. 39.) 
"Money is but the fat of the Body Politick, whereof too much doth as oiten 
hinder its agility, as too little makes it sick ... as fat lubricates the motion 
of the muscles, feeds in want of victuals, fills up the uneven cavities and 
beautifies the body; so doth money in the state quicken its action, leeds irom 
abroad in time of dearth at home; evens accounts ... and beautifies the whole; 
altho more especially the particular persons that have it in plenty. "(W. Pet- 
ty, "Political Anatomy of Ireland," p. 14.) 





The circulation of commodities is the starting-point of capital. 
The production of commodities, their circulation, and that more 
developed form of their circulation called commerce, these form 
the historical ground-work from which it rises. The modern 
history of capital dates from the creation in the 16th century of 
a world-embracing commerce and a world-embracing market. 

If we abstract from the material substance of the circulation 
of commodities, that is, from the exchange of the various use- 
values, and consider only the economic forms produced by this 
process of circulation, we find its final result to be money: this 
final product of the circulation of commodities is the first form 
in which capital appears. 

As a matter of history, capital, as opposed to landed property, 
invariably takes the form at first of money; it appears as moneyed 
wealth, as the capital of the merchant and of the usurer. * But 
we have no need to refer to the origin of capital in order to dis- 
cover that the first form of appearance of capital is money. We 
can see it daily under our very eyes. All new capital, to commence 
with, comes on the stage, that is, on the market, whether of com- 
modities, labour, or money, even in our days, in the shape of 
money that by a definite process has to be transformed into capital. 

The first distinction we notice between money that is money 
only, and money that is capital, is nothing more than a differ- 
ence in their form of circulation. 

The simplest form of the circulation of commodities is C — 
M— C, the transformation of commodities into money, and the 

1 The contrast between the power, based on the personal relations of 
dominion and servitude, that is conferred by landed property, and the imper- 
sonal power that is given by money, is well expressed by the two French 
proverbs, "Nulle terre sans seigneur," and "L'argent n'a pas de maitre" 


change of the money back again into commodities; or selling in 
order to buy. But alongside of this form we find another specifi- 
cally different form: M— C— M, the transformation of money 
into commodities, and the change of commodities back again 
into money; or buying in order to sell. Money that circulates in 
the latter manner is thereby transformed into, becomes capital, 
and is already potentially capital. 

Now let us examine the circuit M— C— M a little closer. It 
consists, like the other, of two antithetical phases. In the first 
phase, M — G, or the purchase, the money is changed into a com- 
modity. In the second phase, C— M, or the sale, the commodity 
is changed back again into money. The combination of these two 
phases constitutes the single movement whereby money is ex- 
changed for a commodity, and the same commodity is again 
exchanged for money; whereby a commodity is bought in order 
to be sold, or, neglecting the distinction in form between buying 
and selling, whereby a commodity is bought with money, and 
then money is bought with a commodity. x The result, in which 
the phases of the process vanish, is the exchange of money for 
money, M— M. If I purchase 2,000 lbs. of cotton for £100, and 
resell the 2,000 lbs. of cotton for £110, I have, in fact, exchanged 
£100 for £110, money for money. 

Now it is evident that the circuit M — C — M would be absurd 
and without meaning if the intention were to exchange by this 
means two equal sums of money, £100 for £100. The miser's plan 
would be far simpler and surer; he sticks to his £100 instead of 
exposing it to the dangers of circulation. And yet, whether the 
merchant who has paid £100 for his cotton sells it for £110, or 
lets it go for £100, or even £50, his money has, at all events, gone 
through a characteristic and original movement, quite different 
in kind from that which it goes through in the hands of the peas- 
ant who sells corn, and with the money thus set free buys clothes. 
We have therefore to examine first the distinguishing characteris- 
tics of the forms of the circuits M— C— M and C— M— C, and in 
doing this the real difference that underlies the mere difference 
of form will reveal itself. 

Let us see, in the first place, what the two forms have in 

Both circuits are resolvable into the same two antithetical 
phases, C— M, a sale, and M— C, a purchase. In each of these phases 

1 "Avec de l'argent on achete des marchandises et avec des marchan- 
dises on achete de l'argent." (Merrier de la Riviere: "L'ordre naturel et es- 
sentiel des societes politiques," p. 543.) 


the same material elements— a commodity, and money, and 
the same economic dramatis personse, a buyer and a seller — con- 
front one another. Each circuit is the unity of the same two an- 
tithetical phases, and in each case this unity is brought about by 
the intervention of three contracting parties, of whom one only 
sells, another only buys, while the third both buys and sells. 

What, however, first and foremost distinguishes the circuit 
C— M— G from the circuit M— G— M, is the inverted order of 
succession of the two phases. The simple circulation of commodities 
begins with a sale and ends with a purchase, while the circulation 
of money as capital begins with a purchase and ends with a sale. 
In the one case both the starting-point and the goal are commodi- 
ties, in the other they are money. In the first form the movement 
is brought about by the intervention of money, in the second by 
that of a commodity. 

In the circulation G — M — G, the money is in the end con- 
verted into a commodity, that serves as a use-value; it is spent 
once for all. In the inverted form, M— G— M, on the contrary, 
the buyer lays out money in order that, as a seller, he may recover 
money. By the purchase of his commodity he throws money into 
circulation, in order to withdraw it again by the sale of the same 
commodity. He lets the money go, but only with the sly inten- 
tion of getting it back again. The money, therefore, is not spent, 
it is merely advanced. 1 

In the circuit G — M — G, the same piece of money changes 
its place twice. The seller gets it from the buyer and pays it away 
to another seller. The complete circulation, which begins with 
the receipt, concludes with the payment, of money for commodi- 
ties. It is the very contrary in the circuit M — G — M. Here it is 
not the piece of money that changes its place twice, but the com- 
modity. The buyer takes it from the hands of the seller and passes 
it into the hands of another buyer. Just as in the simple circu- 
lation of commodities the double change of place of the same 
piece of money effects its passage from one hand into another, 
so here the double change of place of the same commodity brings 
about the reflux of the money to its point of departure. 

Such reflux is not dependent on the commodity being sold 
for more than was paid for it. This circumstance influences only 
the amount of the money that comes back. The reflux itself takes 

1 "When a thing is bought in order to be sold again, the sum employed 
is called money advanced; when it is bought not to be sold, it may be said 
to be expended." — (James Steuart: "Works," &c. Edited by Gen. Sir James 
Steuart, his son. Lond., 1805, V. I., p. 274.) 


place, so soon as the purchased commodity is resold, in other 
words, so soon as the circuit M— G— M is completed. We have 
here, therefore, a palpable difference between the circulation of 
money as capital, and its circulation as mere money. 

The circuit G— M— G comes completely to an end, so soon 
as the money brought in by the sale of one commodity is abstract- 
ed again by the purchase of another. 

If, nevertheless, there follows a reflux of money to its starting- 
point, this can only happen through a renewal or repetition 
of the operation. If I sell a quarter of corn for £3, and with this 
£3 buy clothes, the money, so far as I am concerned, is spent 
and done with. It belongs to the clothes merchant. If I now sell 
a second quarter of corn, money indeed flows back to me, not 
however as a sequel to the first transaction, but in consequence 
of its repetition. The money again leaves me, so soon as I complete 
this second transaction by a fresh purchase. Therefore, in the 
circuit C — M — G, the expenditure of money has nothing to do 
with its reflux. On the other hand, in M— G— M, the reflux of 
the money is conditioned by the very mode of its expenditure. 
Without this reflux, the operation fails, or the process is inter- 
rupted and incomplete, owing to the absence of its complementary 
and final phase, the sale. 

The circuit G— M— G starts with one commodity, and fin- 
ishes with another, which falls out of circulation and into consump- 
tion. Consumption, the satisfaction of wants, in one word, use- 
value, is its end and aim. The circuit M— G— M, on the contrary, 
commences with money and ends with money. Its leading mo- 
tive, and the goal that attracts it, is therefore mere exchange- 

In the simple circulation of commodities, the two extremes of 
the circuit have the same economic form. They are both com- 
modities, and commodities of equal value. But they are also use- 
values differing in their qualities, as, for example, corn and 
clothes. The exchange of products, of the different materials in 
which the labour of society is embodied, forms here the basis 
of the movement. It is otherwise in the circulation M— C— M, 
which at first sight appears purposeless, because tautological. 
Both extremes have the same economic form. They are both money, 
and therefore are not qualitatively different use-values; for 
money is but the converted form of commodities, in which their 
particular use-values vanish. To exchange £100 for cotton, and 
then this same cotton again for £100, is merely a roundabout 
way of exchanging money for money, the same for the same, and 


appears to be an operation just as purposeless as it is absurd. l 
One sum of money is distinguishable from another only by its 
amount. The character and tendency of the process M — G — M, 
is therefore not due to any qualitative difference between its 
extremes, both being money, but solely to their quantitative 
difference. More money is withdrawn from circulation at the 
finish than was thrown into it at the start. The cotton that was 
bought for £100 is perhaps resold for £100+ £10 or £110. The 
exact form of this process is therefore M — C — M', where M' = 
M + AM =the original sum advanced, plus an increment. 
This increment or excess over the original value I call "surplus- 
value." The value originally advanced, therefore, not only re- 
mains intact while in circulation, but adds to itself a surplus- 
value or expands itself. It is this movement that converts it 
into capital. 

Of course, it is also possible, that in G — M — G, the two 
extremes C — C, say corn and clothes, may represent different 
quantities of value. The farmer may sell his corn above its value, 
or may buy the clothes at less than their value. He may, on the 
other hand, "be done" by the clothes merchant. Yet, in the form 
of circulation now under consideration, such differences in value 
are purely accidental. The fact that the corn and the clothes are 
equivalents, does not deprive the process of all meaning, as it 

1 "On n'echange pas de I'argent contre de l'argent," says Mercier dc 
la Riviere to the Mercantilists (1. c, p. 486). In a work, which, ex professo, 
treats of "trade" and "speculation," occurs the following: "All trade consists 
in the exchange of things of different kinds; and the advantage" (to the mer- 
chant?) "arises out of this difference. To exchange a pound of bread against 
a pound of bread ... would be attended with no advantage; ... Hence trade 
is advantageously contrasted with gambling, which consists in a mere 
exchange of money for money." (Th. Corbet, "An Inquiry into the Causes 
and Modes of the Wealth of Individuals; or the Principles of Trade and Spec- 
ulation Explained." London, 1841, p. 5.) Although Corbet does not see that 
M — M, the exchange of money for money, is the characteristic form of cir- 
culation, not only of merchants' capital but of all capital, yet at least he 
acknowledges that this form is common to gambling and to one species of 
trade, viz., speculation: but then comes MacCulloch and makes out, that to 
buy in order to sell, is to speculate, and thus the difference between Specu- 
lation and Trade vanishes. "Every transaction in which an individual buys 
produce in order to sell it again, is, in fact, a speculation." (MacCulloch: 
"A Dictionary Practical, &c, of Commerce." Lond., 1847, p. 1009.) With 
much more naivete, Pinto, the Pindar of the Amsterdam Stock Exchange, 
remarks, "Le commerce est un jeu: (taken from Locke) et ce n'est pas avec 
des gueux qu'on peut gagner. Si Ton gagnait longtemps en tout avec tous, 
il faudrait rendre de bon accord les plus grandes parties du profit pour 
recommencer le jeu." (Pinto: "Traite de la Circulation et du Credit." Amster- 
dam, 1771, p. '231.) 


does in M— C— M. The equivalence of their values is rather a 
necessary condition to its normal course. 

The repetition or renewal of the act of selling in order to 
buy, is kept within bounds by the very object it aims at, namely, 
consumption or the satisfaction of definite wants, an aim that 
lies altogether outside the sphere of circulation. But when we 
buy in order to sell, we, on the contrary, begin and end with the 
same thing, money, exchange-value; and thereby the movement 
becomes interminable. No doubt, M becomes M+AM, £100 
become £110. But when viewed in their qualitative aspect alone, 
£110 are the same as £100, namely money; and considered quan- 
titatively, £110 is, like £100, a sum of definite and limited value. 
If now, the £110 be spent as money, they cease to play their part. 
They are no longer capital. Withdrawn from circulation, they 
become petrified into a hoard, and though they remained in that 
state till doomsday, not a single farthing would accrue to them. 
If, then, the expansion of value is once aimed at, there is just 
the same inducement to augment the value of the £110 as that of 
the £100; for both are but limited expressions for exchange-value, 
and therefore both have the same vocation to approach, by quan- 
titative increase, as near as possible to absolute wealth. Momen- 
tarily, indeed, the value originally advanced, the £100 is distin- 
guishable from the surplus-value of £10 that is annexed to it 
during circulation; but the distinction vanishes immediately. At 
the end of the process, we do not receive with one hand the origi- 
nal £100, and with the other, the surplus-value of £10. We simply 
get a value of £110, which is in exactly the same condition and 
fitness for commencing the expanding process, as the original 
£100 was. Money ends the movement only to begin it again. l 
Therefore, the final result of every separate circuit, in which a 
purchase and consequent sale are completed, forms of itself the 
starting-point of a new circuit. The simple circulation of com- 
modities — selling in order to buy — is a means of carrying out a 
purpose unconnected with circulation, namely, the appropria- 
tion of use-values, the satisfaction of wants. The circulation of 
money as capital is, on the contrary, an end in itself, for the ex- 
pansion of value takes place only within this constanly renewed 

1 "Capital is divisible ... into the original capital and the profit, the 
increment to the capital ... although in practice this profit is immediately 
turned into capital, and set in motion with the original." (F. Engels, 
"Umrisse zu einer Kritik der Nationalokonomie, in: Deutsch-Franzosische 
Jahrbiicher, herausgegeben von Arnold Ruge und Karl Marx." Paris, 1844, 
p. 99.) 


movement. The circulation of capital has therefore no lim- 
its. 1 

As the conscious representative of this movement, the pos- 
sessor of money becomes a capitalist. His person, or rather his 
pocket, is the point from which the money starts and to which 
it returns. The expansion of value, which is the objective basis 
or main-spring of the circulation M — C — M, becomes his subjec- 
tive aim, and it is only in so far as the appropriation of ever 
more and more wealth in the abstract becomes the sole motive 
of his operations, that he functions as a capitalist, that is, as 
capital personified and endowed with consciousness and a will. 
Use-values must therefore never be looked upon as the real aim 
of the capitalist; 2 neither must the profit on any single transac- 
tion. The restless never-ending process of profit-making alone 

1 Aristotle opposes (Economic to Chrematistic. He starts from the for- 
mer. So far as it is the art of gaining a livelihood, it is limited to procuring 
those articles that are necessary to existence, and useful either to a household 
or the state. "True wealth (6 dXri&tvoi; nkou'ot;) consists of such values in 
use; for the quantity of possessions of this kind, capable of making life pleas- 
ant, is not unlimited. There is, however, a second mode of acquiring things, 
to which we may by preference and with correctness give the name of Chre- 
matistic, and in this case there appear to be no limits to riches and posses- 
sions. Trade Ofl xaur^ay./) is literally retail trade, and Aristotle takes this 
kind because in it values in use predominate) does not in its nature belong 
to Chrematistic, for here the exchange has reference only to what is necessary 
to themselves (the buyer or seller)." Therefore, as he goes on to show, the 
original form of trade was barter, but with the extension of the latter, there 
arose the necessity for money. On the discovery of money, barter of neces- 
sity developed into xotTirjUxT), into trading in commodities, and this again, 
in opposition to its original tendency, grew into Chrematistic, into the art 
of making money. Now Chrematistic is distinguishable from (Economic in 
this way, that "in the case of Chrematistic circulation is the source of riches 
(tioiiq-cixt) ypr)}iaT(ov... ha ypr,|i2Tcov S<.a2oV?]<;). And it appears to revolve about 
money, for money is the beginning and end of this kind of exchange (to 
vap vojjLtCTjxat oTot/elov xai rapci; t9j<; dMarprj<; ka~(v). Therefore also riches, such as 
Chrematistic strives for, are unlimited. Just as every art that is not a means 
to an end, but an end in itself, has no limit to its aims, because it seeks con- 
stantly to approach nearer and nearer to that end, while those arts that pur- 
sue means to an end, are not boundless, since the goal itself imposes a limit 
upon them, so with Chrematistic, there are no bounds to its aims, these aims 
being absolute wealth. (Economic not Chrematistic has a limit... the object 
of the former is something different from money, of the latter the augmenta- 
tion of money.... By confounding these two forms, which overlap each other, 
some people have been led to look upon the preservation and increase of 
money ad infinitum as the end and aim of (Economic." (Aristoteles, "De Rep." 
edit. Bekker. lib. I. c. 8, 9. passim.) 

2 "Commodities (here used in the sense of use-values) are not the ter- 
minating object of the trading capitalist, money is his terminating object." 
(Th. Chalmers, "On Pol. Econ^ &c.,"2nd Ed., Glasgow, 1832, pp. 165, 166.) 


is what he aims at. 1 This boundless greed after riches, this pas- 
sionate chase after exchange-value, 2 is common to the capitalist 
and the miser; but while the miser is merely a capitalist gone mad, 
the capitalist is a rational miser. The never-ending augmentation 
of exchange-value, which the miser strives after, by seeking 
to save 3 his money from circulation, is attained by the more 
acute capitalist, by constantly throwing it afresh into circula- 
tion. 4 

The independent form, i.e., the money-form, which the 
value of commodities assumes in the case of simple circulation, 
serves only one purpose, namely, their exchange, and vanishes 
in the final result of the movement. On the other hand, in the 
circulation M— C— M, both the money and the commodity rep- 
resent only different modes of existence of value itself, the money 
its general mode, and the commodity its particular, or, so to say, 
disguised mode. 5 It is constantly changing from one form to the 
other without thereby becoming lost, and thus assumes an auto- 
matically active character. If now we take in turn each of the 
two different forms which self-expanding value successively 
assumes in the course of its life, we then arrive at these two prop- 
ositions: Capital is money: Capital is commodities. 6 In truth, 
however, value is here the active factor in a process, in which, 
while constantly assuming the form in turn of money and com- 
modities, it at the same time changes in magnitude, differentiates 

1 "II mercante non conta quasi per niente il lucro fatto, ma mira sempre 
al futuro." (A. Genovesi, Lezioni di Economia Civile (1765), Custodi's edit, 
of Italian Economists. Parte Moderna t. viii. p. 139.) 

2 "The inextinguishable passion for gain, the auri sacra fames, will 
always lead capitalists." (MacCulloch: "The Principles of Polit. Econ." 
London, 1830, p. 179.) This view, of course, does not prevent the same Mac- 
Culloch and others of his kidney, when in theoretical difficulties, such, for 
example, as the question of over-production, from transforming the same 
capitalist into a moral citizen, whose sole concern is for use-values, 
and who even develops an insatiable hunger for boots, hats, eggs, calico, 
and other extremely familiar sorts of use-values. 

3 Sooqsiv is a characteristic Greek expression for hoarding. So in Eng- 
lish to save has the same two meanings: sauver and epargner. 

4 "Questo infinito che le cose non hanno in progresso, hanno in giro." 

8 "Ce n'est pas la matiere qui fait le capital, mais la valeur de ces ma- 
lieres." (J. B. Say: "Traite d'Econ. Polit." 3eme ed. Paris, 1817, t. II., 
p. 429.) 

6 "Currency (!) employed in producing articles ... is capital." (Mac- 
leod: "The Theory and Practice of Banking." London, 1855, v. 1, ch. i. 
p. 55.) "Capital is commodities." (James Mill: "Elements of Pol. Econ." Lond., 
1821, p. 74.) 


itself by throwing of! surplus-value from itself; the original value, 
in other words, expands spontaneously. For the movement, in 
the course of which it adds surplus-value, is its own movement, 
its expansion, therefore, is automatic expansion. Because it is 
value, it has acquired the occult quality of being able to add 
value to itself. It brings forth living offspring, or, at the least, 
lays golden eggs. 

Value, therefore, being the active factor in such a process, 
and assuming at one time the form of money, at another that 
of commodities, but through all these changes preserving itself 
and expanding, it requires some independent form, by means of 
which its identity may at any time be established. And this 
form it possesses only in the shape of money. It is under the 
form of money that value begins and ends, and begins again, 
every act of its own spontaneous generation. It began by being 
£100, it is now £110, and so on. But the money itself is only one 
of the two forms of value. Unless it takes the form of some com- 
modity, it does not become capital. There is here no antagonism, as 
in the case of hoarding, between the money and commodities. The 
capitalist knows that all commodities, however scurvy they may 
look, or however badly they may smell, are in faith and in truth 
money, inwardly circumcised Jews, and what is more, a wonder- 
ful means whereby out of money to make more money. 

In simple circulation, C — M — C, the value of commodities 
attained at the most a form independent of their use-values, i.e., 
the form of money; but that same value now in the circulation 
M— C— M, or the circulation of capital, suddenly presents itself 
as an independent substance, endowed with a motion of its own, 
passing through a life-process of its own, in which money and 
commodities are mere forms which it assumes and casts off in 
turn. Nay, more: instead of simply representing the relations 
of commodities, it enters now, so to say, into private relations 
with itself. It differentiates itself as original value from itself 
as surplus-value; as the father differentiates himself from himself 
qua the son, yet both are one and of one age: for only by the surplus- 
value of £10 does the £100 originally advanced become capita i, 
and so soon as this takes place, so soon as the son, and by the 
son, the father, is begotten, so soon does their difference vanish, 
and they again become one, £110. 

Value therefore now becomes value in process, money in 
process, and, as such, capital. It comes out of circulation, enters 
into it again, preserves and multiplies itself within its circuit, 
comes back out of it with expanded bulk, and begins the same 


round ever afresh. 1 M — M', money which begets money, such is 
the description of Capital from the mouths of its first interpreters, 
the Mercantilists. 

Buying in order to sell, or, more accurately, buying in order 
to sell dearer, M — C — M', appears certainly to be a form peculiar 
to one kind of capital alone, namely, merchants' capital. But 
industrial capital too is money, that is changed into commodi- 
ties, and by the sale of these commodities, is re-converted into 
more money. The events that take place outside the sphere of 
circulation, in the interval between the buying and selling, do 
not affect the form of this movement. Lastly, in the case of in- 
terest-bearing capital, the circulation M — C — M' appears abridged. 
We have its result without the intermediate stage, in the form 
M— M', "en style lapidaire" so to say, money that is worth more 
money, value that is greater than itself. 

M — C — M' is therefore in reality the general formula of cap- 
ital as it appears prima facie within the sphere of circulation. 

1 Capital: "portion fructifiante de la richesse accumulee ... valeur per- 
manente, multipliante." (Sismondi: "Nouveaux Principes d'Econ. Polit.," 
t. i., p. 88, 89.) 





The form which circulation takes when money becomes capi- 
tal, is opposed to all the laws we have hitherto investigated 
bearing on the nature of commodities, value and money, and even 
of circulation itself. What distinguishes this form from that of 
the simple circulation of commodities, is the inverted order of 
succession of the two antithetical processes, sale and purchase. 
How can this purely formal distinction between these processes 
change their character as it were by magic? 

But that is not all. This inversion has no existence for two 
out of the three persons who transact business together. As cap- 
italist, I buy commodities from A and sell them again to B, 
but as a simple owner of commodities, I sell them to B and then 
purchase fresh ones from A. A and B see no difference between 
the two sets of transactions. They are merely buyers or sellers. 
And I on each occasion meet them as a mere owner of either 
money or commodities, as a buyer or a seller, and, what is more, 
in both sets of transactions, I am opposed to A only as a buyer 
and to B only as a seller, to the one only as money, to the other 
only as commodities, and to neither of them as capital or a 
capitalist, or as representative of anything that is more than 
money or commodities, or that can produce any effect beyond what 
money and commodities can. For me the purchase from A and 
the sale to B are part of a series. But the connexion between the 
two acts exists for me alone. A does not trouble himself about 
my transaction with B, nor does B about my business with A. 
And if I offered to explain to them the meritorious nature of my 
action in inverting the order of succession, they would probably 
point out to me that I was mistaken as to that order of succession, 
and that the whole transaction, instead of beginning with a 
purchase and ending with a sale, began, on the contrary, with 


a sale and was concluded with a purchase. In truth, my first act, 
the purchase, was from the standpoint of A, a sale, and my 
second act, the sale, was from the standpoint of B, a purchase. 
Not content with that, A and B would declare that the whole 
series was superfluous and nothing but Hokus Pokus; that for 
the future A would buy direct from B, and B sell direct to A. 
Thus the whole transaction would be reduced to a single act form- 
ing an isolated, non-complemented phase in the ordinary cir- 
culation of commodities, a mere sale from A's point of view, and 
from B's, a mere purchase. The inversion, therefore, of the order 
of succession, does not take us outside the sphere of the simple 
circulation of commodities, and we must rather look, whether 
there is in this simple circulation anything permitting an ex- 
pansion of the value that enters into circulation, and, consequent- 
ly, a creation of surplus-value. 

Let us take the process of circulation in a form under which 
it presents itself as a simple and direct exchange of commodities. 
This is always the case when two owners of commodities buy 
from each other, and on the settling day the amounts mutually 
owing are equal and cancel each other. The money in tKis case 
is money of account and serves to express the value of the com- 
modities by their prices, but is not, itself, in the shape of hard cash, 
confronted with them. So far as regards use-values, it is clear 
that both parties may gain some advantage. Both part with goods 
that, as use-values, are of no service to them, and receive others 
that they can make use of. And there may also be a further gain. 
A, who sells wine and buys corn, possibly produces more wine, 
with given labour-time, than farmer B could, and B, on the other 
hand, more corn than wine-grower A could. A, therefore, may 
get, for the same exchange-value, more corn, and B more wine, 
than each would respectively get without any exchange by pro- 
ducing his own corn and wine. With reference, therefore, to use- 
value, there is good ground for saying that "exchange is a trans- 
action by which both sides gain." 1 It is otherwise with exchange- 
value. "A man who has plenty of wine and no corn treats with 
a man who has plenty of corn and no wine; an exchange takes 
place between them of corn to the value of 50, for wine of the same 
value. This act produces no increase of exchange-value either 
for the one or the other; for each of them already possessed, before 

1 "L'echange est une transaction admirable dans laquelle les deux 
contractants gagnent— toujours (!)" (Destutt de Tracy: "Traite de la Vo- 
lonte et de ses effets." Paris, 1826, p. 68.) This work appeared afterwards- 
as "Traite d'Econ. Polit." 


the exchange, a value equal to that which he acquired by means 
of that operation." 1 The result is not altered by introducing 
money, as a medium of circulation, between the commodities, 
and making the sale and the purchase two distinct acts. 2 The 
value of a commodity is expressed in its price before it goes into 
circulation, and is therefore a precedent condition of circulation, 
not its result. 3 

Abstractedly considered, that is, apart from circumstances 
not immediately flowing from the laws of the simple circulation 
of commodities, there is in an exchange nothing (if we except 
the replacing of one use-value by another) but a metamorphosis, 
a mere change in the form of the commodity. The same exchange- 
value, i.e., the same quantity of incorporated social labour, re- 
mains throughout in the hands of the owner of the commodity, 
first in the shape of his own commodity, then in the form of the 
money for which he exchanged it, and lastly, in the shape of the 
commodity he buys with that money. This change of form does 
not imply a change in the magnitude of the value. But the change, 
which the value of the commodity undergoes in this process, is 
limited to a change in its money-form. This form exists first as 
the price of the commodity offered for sale, then as an actual 
sum of money, which, however, was already expressed in the 
price, and lastly, as the price of an equivalent commodity. This 
change of form no more implies, taken alone, a change in the 
quantity of value, than does the change of a £5 note into sover- 
eigns, half sovereigns and shillings. So far therefore as the cir- 
culation of commodities effects a change in the form alone of 
their values, and is free from disturbing influences, it must be 
the exchange of equivalents. Little as Vulgar-Economy knows 
about the nature of value, yet whenever it wishes to consider the 
phenomena of circulation in their purity, it assumes that supply 
and demand are equal, which amounts to this, that their effect 
is nil. If therefore, as regards the use-values exchanged, both 
buyer and seller may possibly gain something, this is not the 
case as regards the exchange-values. Here we must rather say, 
"Where equality exists there can be no gain." 4 It is true, commod- 

1 "Mercier de la Riviere," 1. c, p. 544. 

2 "Que Tune de ces deux valeurs soit argent, ou qu'elles soient toutes 
deux marchandises usuelles, rien de plus indifferent en soi." ("Mercier de la 
Riviere," 1. c, p. 543.) 

8 "Ce ne sont pas les contractants qui prononcent sur la valeur; elle 
est decidee avant la convention." (Le Trosne, p. 906.) 

4 "Dove e egualita non e lucro." (Galiani, "Delia Moneta in Custodi, 
Parte Moderna," t. iv., p. 244.) 


ities may be sold at prices deviating from their values, but these 
deviations are to be considered as infractions of the laws of the 
exchange of commodities, J which in its normal state is an exchange 
of equivalents, consequently, no method for increasing value. 2 
Hence, we see that behind all attempts to represent th& 
circulation of commodities as a source of surplus-value, there 
lurks a quid pro quo, a mixing up of use-value and exchange-value. 
For instance, Condillac says: "It is not true that on an exchange 
of commodities we give value for value. On the contrary, each 
of the two contracting parties in every case, gives a less for a 
greater value. ... If we really exchanged equal values, neither 
party could make a profit. And yet, they both gain, or ought to 
gain. Why? The value of a thing consists solely in its relation to 
our wants. What is more to the one is less to the other, and vice 
versa. ... It is not to be assumed that we offer for sale articles 
required for our own consumption. ... We wish to part with a 
useless thing, in order to get one that we need; we want to give 
less for more. ... It was natural to think that, in an exchange, 
value was given for value, whenever each of the articles exchanged 
was of equal value with the same quantity of gold. ... But there 
is another point to be considered in our calculation. The question 
is, whether we both exchange something superfluous for something 
necessary." 3 We see in this passage, how Condillac not only 
confuses use-value with exchange-value, but in a really childish 
manner assumes, that in a society, in which the production of 
commodities is well developed, each producer produces his own 
means of subsistence, and throws into* circulation only the excess 
over his own requirements. 4 Still, Condillac's argument is 

1 "L'Schange devient desavantageux pour l'une des parties, lorsque quel- 
que chose etrangere vient diminuer ou exagerer le prix; alors l'egalite est 
blessee, mais la lesion procede de cette cause et non de l'echange." (Le 
Trosne, 1. c, p. 904.) 

2 "L'echange est de sa nature un contrat d'egalite qui se iait de valeur 
pour valeur egale. II n'est done pas un moyen de s'enrichir, puisque Ton 
donne autant que Ton recoit." (Le Trosne, 1. c, p. 903.) 

8 Condillac: "Le Commerce et le Gouvernement" (1776). Edit. Daire 
et Molinari in the "Melanges d'Econ. Polit." Paris, 1847, pp. 267, 291. 

4 Le Trosne, therefore, answers his friend Condillac with justice as 
follows: "Dans une ... societe formee il n'y a pas de surabondant en aucun 
genre." At the same time, in a bantering way, he remarks: "If both the per- 
sons who exchange receive more to an equal amount, and part with less to 
an equal amount, they both get the same." It is because Condillac has not 
the remotest idea of the nature of exchange-value that he has been chosen 
by Herr Professor Wilhelm Roscher as a proper person to answer for the sound- 
ness of his own childish notions. See Roscher's "Die Grundlagen der Natio- 
nalokonomie, Dritte Auflage," 1858. 


frequently used by modern economists, more especially when the 
point is to show, that the exchange of commodities in its developed 
form, commerce, is productive of surplus-value. For instance, 
"Commerce ... adds value to products, for the same products 
in the hands of consumers, are worth more than in the hands of 
producers, and it may strictly be considered an act of produc- 
tion." 1 But commodities are not paid for twice over, once on 
account of their use-value, and again on account of their value. 
And though the use-value of a commodity is more serviceable 
to the buyer than to the seller, its money-form is more serviceable 
to the seller. Would he otherwise sell it? We might therefore 
just as well say that the buyer performs "strictly an act of 
production/' by converting stockings, for example, into money. 

If commodities, or commodities and money, of equal exchange- 
value, and consequently equivalents, are exchanged, it is plain 
that no one abstracts more value from, than he throws into, 
circulation. There is no creation of surplus-value. And, in its 
normal form, the circulation of commodities demands the exchange 
of equivalents. But in actual practice, the process does not retain 
its normal form. Let us, therefore, assume an exchange of non- 

In any case the market for commodities is only frequented 
by owners of commodities, and the power which these persons 
exercise over each other, is no other than the power of their com- 
modities. The material variety of these commodities is the ma- 
terial incentive to the act of exchange, and makes buyers and 
sellers mutually dependent, because none of them possesses the 
object of his own wants, and each holds in his hand the object 
of another's wants. Besides these material differences of their 
use-values, there is only one other difference between commodi- 
ties, namely, that between their bodily form and the form into 
which they are converted by sale, the difference between commodi- 
ties and money. And consequently the owners of commodities are 
distinguishable only as sellers, those who own commodities, and 
buyers, those who own money. 

Suppose then, that by some inexplicable privilege, the seller 
is enabled to sell his commodities above their value, what is 
worth 100 for 110, in which case the price is nominally raised 
10%. The seller therefore pockets a surplus-value of 10. But 
after he has sold he becomes a buyer. A third owner of commodi- 

1 S. P. Newman: "Elements of Polit. Econ." Andover and New York, 
lfc35, p. 175. 


ties comes to him now as seller, who in this capacity also enjoys 
the privilege of selling his commodities 10% too dear. Our friend 
gained 10 as a seller only to lose it again as a buyer. l The net 
result is, that all owners of commodities sell their goods to one 
another at 10% above their value, which comes precisely to the 
same as if they sold them at their true value. Such a general and 
nominal rise of prices has the same effect as if the values had 
been expressed in weight of silver instead of in weight of gold. 
The nominal prices of commodities would rise, but the real re- 
lation between their values would remain unchanged. 

Let us make the opposite assumption, that the buyer has 
the privilege of purchasing commodities under their value. In 
this case it is no longer necessary to bear in mind that he in his 
turn will become a seller. He was so before he became buyer; 
he had already lost 10% in selling before he gained 10% as buyer. 2 
Everything is just as it was. 

The creation of surplus-value, and therefore the conversion 
of money into capital, can consequently be explained neither 
on the assumption that commodities are sold above their value, 
nor that they are bought below their value. 3 

The problem is in no way simplified by introducing irrele- 
vant matters after the manner of Col. Torrens:" Effectual demand 
consists in the power and inclination (!), on the part of consumers, 
to give for commodities, either by immediate or circuitous barter, 
some greater portion of ... capital than their production costs." 4 
In relation to circulation, producers and consumers meet only 
as buyers and sellers. To assert that the surplus-value acquired 
by the producer has its origin in the fact that consumers pay 
for commodities more than their value, is only to say in other 
words: The owner of commodities possesses, as a seller, the 

1 "By the augmentation of the nominal value of the produce ... sellers 
not enriched ... since what they gain as sellers, they precisely expend io the 
quality of buyers." ("The Essential Principles of the Wealth of Nations, 
&c, London, 1797, p. 66.) r , 

2 Si Ton est force de donner pour 18 livres une quantite de telle produc- 
tion qui en valait 24, lorsqu'on employera ce meme argent a acheter, on aura 
egalement pour 18 1. ce que Ton payait 24." (Le Trosne, 1. c, p. 897.) 

3 "Chaque vendeur ne peut done parvenir a rencherir habituellement 
ses marchandises, qu'en se soumettant aussi a payer habituellement plus 
cher les marchandises des autres vendeurs; et par la meme raison, chaque 
consommateur ne peut payer habituellement moins cher ce qu'il achete, 
qu'en se soumettant aussi a une diminution semblable sur le prix des choses 
qu'il vend." (Merrier de la Riviere, 1. c, p. 555.) 

4 R. Torrens. "An Essay on the Production of Wealth.' London, 1SZ1, 
p. 349. 


privilege of selling too dear. The seller has himself produced the 
commodities or represents their producer, but the buyer has to 
no less extent produced the commodities represented by his 
money, or represents their producer. The distinction between 
them is, that one buys and the other sells. The fact that the owner 
of the commodities, under the designation of producer, sells them 
over their value, and under the designation of consumer, pays 
too much for them, does not carry us a single step further. l 

To be consistent therefore, the upholders of the delusion that 
surplus-value has its origin in a nominal rise of prices or in the 
privilege which the seller has of selling too dear, must assume 
the existence of a class that only buys and does not sell, i.e., 
only consumes and does not produce. The existence of such a 
class is inexplicable from the standpoint we have so far reached, 
viz., that of simple circulation. But let us anticipate. The money 
with which such a class is constantly making purchases, must 
constantly flow into their pockets, without any exchange, gratis, 
by might or right, from the pockets of the commodity-owners 
themselves. To sell commodities above their value to such a class, 
is only to crib back again a part of the money previously given 
to it. 2 The towns of Asia Minor thus paid a yearly money tribute 
to ancient Rome. With this money Rome purchased from them 
commodities, and purchased them too dear. The provincials 
cheated the Romans, and thus got back from their conquerors, 
in the course of trade, a portion of the tribute. Yet, for all that, 
the conquered were the really cheated. Their goods were still 
paid for with their own money. That is not the way to get rich 
or to create surplus- value. 

Let us therefore keep within the bounds of exchange where 
sellers are also buyers, and buyers, sellers. Our difficulty may 
perhaps have arisen from treating the actors as personifications 
instead of as individuals. 

A may be clever enough to get the advantage of B or G 
without their being able to retaliate. A sells wine worth £40 to B, 

1 "The idea of profits being paid by the consumers, is, assuredly, very 
absurd. Who are the consumers?" (G. Ramsay: "An Essay on the Distribu- 
tion of Wealth." Edinburgh, 1836, p. 183.) 

2 "When a man is in want of a demand, does Mr. Malthus recommend 
him to pay some other person to take off his goods?" is a question put by an 
angry disciple of Ricardo to Malthus, who, like his disciple, Parson Chal- 
mers, economically glorifies this class of simple buyers or consumers. (See 
"An Inquiry into those Principles Respecting the Nature of Demand and the 
Necessity of Consumption, lately advocated by Mr. Malthus," &c Lond., 
1821, p. 55.) 


and obtains from him in exchange corn to the value of £50. A 
has converted his £40 into £50, has made more money out of 
less, and has converted his commodities into capital. Let us exam- 
ine this a little more closely. Before the exchange we had £40 
worth of wine in the hands of A, and £50 worth of corn in those 
of B, a total value of £90. After the exchange we have still the 
same total value of £90. The value in circulation has not increased 
by one iota, it is only distributed differently between A and B. 
What is a loss of value to B is surplus-value to A; what is "minus" 
to one is "plus" to the other. The same change would have taken 
place, if A, without the formality of an exchange, had directly 
stolen the £10 from B. The sum of the values in circulation can 
clearly not be augmented by any change in their distribution, any 
more than the quantity of the precious metals in a country by a 
Jew selling a Queen Anne's farthing for a guinea. The capitalist 
class, as a whole, in any country, cannot over-reach themselves. * 

Turn and twist then as we may, the fact remains unaltered. 
If equivalents are exchanged, no surplus-value results, and if 
non-equivalents are exchanged, still no surplus- value. 2 Circula- 
tion, or the exchange of commodities, begets no value. 3 

The reason is now therefore plain why, in analysing the stand- 
ard form of capital, the form under which it determines the eco- 
nomic organisation of modern society, we entirely left out of 
consideration its most popular, and, so to say, antediluvian forms, 
merchants' capital and money-lenders' capital. 

The circuit M— C— M', buying in order to sell dearer, is seen 
most clearly in genuine merchants' capital. But the movement 

1 Destutt de Tracy, although, or perhaps because, he was a member 
of the Institute, held the opposite view. He says, industrial capitalists 
make profits because "they all sell for more than it has cost to produce. 
And to whom do they sell? In the first instance to one another." (1. c, 
p. 239.) 

2 "L'echange qui se fait de deux valeurs egales n'augmente ni ne dimi- 
nue la masse des valeurs subsistantes dans la societe. L'echange de deux 
valeurs inegales ... ne change rien non plus a la somme des valeurs sociales, 
bien qu'il ajoute a la fortune de Tun ce qu'il ote de la fortune de 1'autre." 
(J. B. Say, 1. c, t. II, pp. 443, 444.) Say, not in the least troubled as to the 
consequences of this statement, borrows it, almost word for word, from the 
Physiocrats. The following example will show how Monsieur Say turned to 
account the writings of the Physiocrats, in his day quite forgotten, for the 
purpose of expanding the "value" of his own. His most celebrated saying, 
"On n'achete des produits qu'avec des produits" (1. c, t. II, p. 441) runs 
as follows in the original physiocratic work: "Les productions ne se paient 
qu'avec des productions." (Le Trosne, I. c, p. 899.) 

3 "Exchange confers no value at all upon products." (F. Wayland: 
"The Elements of Political Economy." Boston, 1843, p. 169.) 


takes place entirely within the sphere of circulation. Since, 
however, it is impossible, by circulation alone, to account for 
the conversion of money into capital, for the formation of sur- 
plus-value, it would appear, that merchants' capital is an impos- 
sibility, so long as equivalents are exchanged; 1 that, therefore, 
it can only have its origin in the two-fold advantage gained, over 
both the selling and the buying producers, by the merchant who 
parasitically shoves himself in between them. It is in this sense 
that Franklin says, "war is robbery, commerce is generally cheat- 
ing." 2 If the transformation of merchants' money into cap- 
ital is to be explained otherwise than by the producers being 
simply cheated, a long series of intermediate steps would be 
necessary, which, at present, when the simple circulation of 
commodities forms our only assumption, are entirely want- 

What we have said with reference to merchants' capital 
applies still more to money-lenders' capital. In merchants' 
capital, the two extremes, the money that is thrown upon the 
market, and the augmented money that is withdrawn from the 
market, are at least connected by a purchase and a sale, in other 
words by the movement of the circulation. In money-lenders' 
capital the form M — C — M' is reduced to the two extremes with- 
out a mean, M — M', money exchanged for more money, a form 
that is incompatible with the nature of money, and therefore 
remains inexplicable from the standpoint of the circulation of 
commodities. Hence Aristotle: "since chrematistic is a double 
science, one part belonging to commerce, the other to economic, 
the latter being necessary and praiseworthy, the former based 
on circulation and with justice disapproved (for it is not based on 
Nature, but on mutual cheating), therefore the usurer is most 
rightly hated, because money itself is the source of his gain, and 
is not used for the purposes for which it was invented. For it origi- 
nated for the exchange of commodities, but interest makes out 
of money, more money. Hence its name (toxo; interest and off- 
spring). For the begotten are like those who beget them. But 

1 Under the rule of invariable equivalents commerce would be impos- 
sible. (G. Opdyke: "A Treatise on Polit. Economy." New York, 1851, pp. 66- 
69.) "The difference between real value and exchange-value is based upon 
this fact, namely, that the value of a thing is different from the so-called 
equivalent given for it in trade, i.e., that this equivalent is no equivalent." 
(F. Engels, 1. c, p. 96.) 

2 Benjamin Franklin: Works, Vol. II. edit. Sparks in "Positions to be 
examined concerning National Wealth," p. 376. 


interest is money of money, so that of all modes of making a liv- 
ing, this is the most contrary to Nature." 1 

In the course of our investigation, we shall find that both 
merchants' capital and interest-bearing capital are derivative 
forms, and at the same time it will become clear, why these two 
forms appear in the course of history before the modern standard 
form of capital. 

We have shown that surplus-value cannot be created by cir- 
culation, and, therefore, that in its formation, something must 
take place in the background, which is not apparent in 
the circulation itself. 2 But can surplus-value possibly originate 
anywhere else than in circulation, which is the sum total of all 
the mutual relations of commodity-owners, as far as they are 
determined by their commodities? Apart from circulation, the 
commodity-owner is in relation only with his own commodity. 
So far as regards value, that relation is limited to this, that the 
commodity contains a quantity of his own labour, that quantity 
being measured by a definite social standard. This quantity is 
expressed by the value of the commodity, and since the value 
is reckoned in money of account, this quantity is also expressed 
by the price, which we will suppose to be £10. But his labour 
is not represented both by the value of the commodity, and by 
a surplus over that value, not by a price of 10 that is also a price 
of 11, not by a value that is greater than itself. The commodity 
owner can, by his labour, create value, but not self-expanding 
value. He can increase the value of his commodity, by adding 
fresh labour, and therefore more value to the value in hand, by 
making, for instance, leather into boots. The same material has 
now more value, because it contains a greater quantity of labour. 
The boots have therefore more value than the leather, but the 
value of the leather remains what it was; it has not expanded it- 
self, has not, during the making of the boots, annexed surplus- 
value. It is therefore impossible that outside the sphere of circu- 
lation, a producer of commodities can, without coming into con- 
tact with other commodity-owners, expand value, and conse- 
quently convert money or commodities into capital. 

It is therefore impossible for capital to be produced by cir- 
culation, and it is equally impossible for it to originate apart 

1 Aristotle, 1. c, c. 10. 

8 "Profit, in the usual condition of the market, is not made by ex- 
changing. Had it not existed before, neither could it after that transaction." 
(Ramsay, 1. c, p. 184.) 


from circulation. It must have its origin both in circulation and 
yet not in circulation. 

We have, therefore, got a double result. 

The conversion of money into capital has to be explained on 
the basis of the laws that regulate the exchange of commodities r 
in such a way that the starting-point is the exchange of equiva- 
lents. 1 Our friend, Moneybags, who as yet is only an embryo cap- 
italist, must buy his commodities at their value, must sell them 
at their value, and yet at the end of the process must withdraw 
more value from circulation than he threw into it at starting. 
His development into a full-grown capitalist must take place, 
both within the sphere of circulation and without it. These are 
the conditions of the problem. Hie Rhodus, hie salta! 

1 From the foregoing investigation, the reader will see that this state- 
ment only means that the formation of capital must be possible even though 
the price and value of a commodity be the same; for its formation cannot 
be attributed to any deviation of the one from the other. If prices actually 
differ from values, we must, first of all, reduce the former to the latter, in 
other words, treat the difference as accidental in order that the phenomena 
may be observed in their purity, and our observations not interfered with 
by disturbing circumstances that have nothing to do with the process in ques- 
tion. We know, moreover, that this reduction is no mere scientific process. 
The continual oscillations in prices, their rising and falling, compensate 
each other, and reduce themselves to an average price, which is their hidden 
regulator. It forms the guiding star of the merchant or the manufacturer 
in every undertaking that requires time. He knows that when a long period 
of time is taken, commodities are sold neither over nor under, but at their 
average price. If therefore he thought about the matter at all, he would for- 
mulate the problem of the formation of capital as follows: How can we account 
for the origin of capital on the supposition that prices are regulated by the 
average price, i.e., ultimately by the value of the commodities? I say "ul- 
timately," because average prices do not directly coincide with the values 
of commodities, as Adam Smith, Ricardo, and others believe. 




THe change of value that occurs in the case of money intended 
to be converted into capital, cannot take place in the money 
itself, since in its function of means of purchase and of payment, 
it does no more than realise the price of the commodity it buys 
or pays for; and, as hard cash, it is value petrified, never varying. 1 
Just as little can it originate in the second act of circulation, the 
re-sale of the commodity, which does no more than transform the 
article from its bodily form back again into its money-form. 
The change must, therefore, take place in the commodity bought 
by the first act, M— C, but not in its value, for equivalents are 
exchanged, and the commodity is paid for at its full value. We 
are, therefore, forced to the conclusion that the change originates 
in the use-value, as such, of the commodity, i.e., in its consump- 
tion. In order to be able to extract value from the consumption 
of a commodity, our friend, Moneybags, must be so lucky as to 
find, within the sphere of circulation, in the market, a commodity, 
whose use-value possesses the peculiar property of being a source 
of value, whose actual consumption, therefore, is itself an em- 
bodiment of labour, and, consequently, a creation of value. The 
possessor of money does find on the market such a special com- 
modity in capacity for labour or labour-power. 

By labour-power or capacity for labour is to be understood 
the aggregate of those mental and physical capabilities existing 
in a human being, which he exercises whenever he produces a 
use-value of any description. 

But in order that our owner of money may be able to find 
labour-power offered for sale as a commodity, various conditions 

1 "In the form of money ... capital is productive of no profit." (Ricar- 
do: "Princ. of Pol. Econ.," p. 267.) 


must first be fulfilled. The exchange of commodities of itself 
implies no other relations of dependence than those which result 
from its own nature. On this assumption, labour-power can appear 
upon the market as a commodity, only if, and so far as, its pos- 
sessor, the individual whose labour-power it is, offers it for sale, or 
sells it, as a commodity. In order that he may be able to do this, 
he must have it at his disposal, must be the untrammelled owner 
of his capacity for labour, i.e., of his person. l He and the owner 
of money meet in the market, and deal with each other as on the 
basis of equal rights, with this difference alone, that one is buyer, 
the other seller; both, therefore, equal in the eyes of the law. 
The continuance of this relation demands that the owner of the 
labour-power should sell it only for a definite period, for if he 
were to sell it rump and stump, once for all, he would be selling 
himself, converting himself from a free man into a slave, from 
an owner of a commodity into a commodity. He must constantly 
look upon his labour-power as his own property, his own com- 
modity, and this he can only do by placing it at the disposal of the 
buyer temporarily, for a definite period of time. By this means 
alone can he avoid renouncing his rights of ownership over it. 2 
The second essential condition to the owner of money finding 
labour-power in the market as a commodity is this— that the 
labourer instead of being in the position to sell commodities in 

1 In encyclopaedias of classical antiquities we find such nonsense as 
this — that in the ancient world capital was fully developed, "except that 
the free labourer and a system of credit was wanting." Mommsen also, in his 
"History of Rome," commits, in this respect, one blunder after another. 

3 Hence legislation in various countries fixes a maximum for labour- 
contracts. Wherever free labour is the rule, the laws regulate the mode of 
terminating this contract. In some States, particularly in Mexico (before the 
American Civil War, also in the territories taken from Mexico, and also, as 
a matter of fact, in the Danubian provinces till the revolution effected by 
Kusa), slavery is hidden under the form of peonage. By means of advances, 
repayable in labour, which are handed down from generation to generation, 
not only the individual labourer, but his family, become, de facto, the prop- 
erty of other persons and their families. Juarez abolished peonage. The so- 
called Emperor Maximilian re-established it by a decree, which, in the House 
of Representatives at Washington, was aptly denounced as a decree for the 
re-introduction of slavery into Mexico. "I may make over to another the use, 
for a limited time, of my particular bodily and mental aptitudes and capabil- 
ities; because, in consequence of this restriction, they are impressed with a 
character of alienation with regard to me as a whole. But by the alienation 
of all my labour-time and the whole of my work, I should be converting the 
substance itself, in other words, my general activity and reality, my person, 
into the property of another." (Hegel, "Philosophie des Rechts." Berlin, 
1840, p. 104, § 67.) 


which his labour is incorporated, must be obliged to offer for sale 
as a commodity that very labour-power, which exists only in 
his living self. 

In order that a man may be able to sell commodities other 
than labour-power, he must of course have the means of produc- 
tion, as raw material, implements, &c. No boots can be made 
without leather. He requires also the means of subsistence. No- 
body — not even "a musician of the future" — can live upon 
future products, or upon use-values in an unfinished state; and 
ever since the first moment of his appearance on the world's stage, 
man always has been, and must still be a consumer, both before 
and while he is producing. In a society where all products assume 
the form of commodities, these commodities must be sold after 
they have been produced, it is only after their sale that they can 
serve in satisfying the requirements of their producer. The time 
necessary for their sale is superadded to that necessary for their 

For the conversion of his money into capital, therefore, the 
owner of money must meet in the market with the free labourer, 
free in the double sense, that as a free man he can dispose of his 
labour-power as his own commodity, and that on the other hand 
he has no other commodity for sale, is short of everything neces- 
sary for the realisation of his labour-power. 

The question why this free labourer confronts him in the 
market, has no interest for the owner of money, who regards the 
labour-market as a branch of the general market for commodities. 
And for the present it interests us just as little. We cling to the 
fact theoretically, as he does practically. One thing, however, 
is clear — Nature does not produce on the one side owners of 
money or commodities, and on the other men possessing nothing 
but their own labour-power. This relation has no natural basis, 
neither is its social basis one that is common to all historical 
periods. It is clearly the result of a past historical development, 
the product of many economic revolutions, of the extinction of a 
whole series of older forms of social production. 

So, too, the economic categories, already discussed by us, 
bear the stamp of history. Definite historical conditions are nee 
essary that a product may become a commodity. It must not 
be produced as the immediate means of subsistence of the pro- 
ducer himself. Had we gone further, and inquired under what cir- 
cumstances all, or even the majority of products take the form of 
commodities, we should have found that this can only happen 
with production of a very specific kind, capitalist production. 


Such an inquiry, however, would have been foreign to the analy- 
sis of commodities. Production and circulation of commodities 
can take place, although the great mass of the objects produced 
are intended for the immediate requirements of their producers, 
are not turned into commodities, and consequently social produc- 
tion is not yet by a long way dominated in its length and breadth 
by exchange-value. The appearance of products as commodities 
pre-supposes such a development of the social division of labour, 
that the separation of use-value from exchange-value, a separation 
which first begins with barter, must already have been completed. 
But such a degree of development is common to many forms of 
society, which in other respects present the most varying histori- 
cal features. On the other hand, if we consider money, its existence 
implies a definite stage in the exchange of commodities. The 
particular functions of money which it performs, either as the 
mere equivalent of commodities, or as means of circulation, or 
means of payment, as hoard or as universal money, point, accord- 
ing to the extent and relative preponderance of the one function or 
the other, to very different stages in the process of social produc- 
tion. Yet we know by experience that a circulation of commodi- 
ties relatively primitive, suffices for the production of all these 
forms. Otherwise with capital. The historical conditions of its 
existence are by no means given with the mere circulation of 
money and commodities. It can spring into life, only when the 
owner of the means of production and subsistence meets in the 
market with the free labourer selling his labour-power. And this 
one historical condition comprises a world's history. Capital, 
therefore, announces from its first appearance a new epoch in 
the process of social production. 1 

We must now examine more closely this peculiar commodity, 
labour-power. Like all others it has a value. 2 How is that value- 

The value of labour-power is determined, as in the case of 
every other commodity, by the labour-time necessary for the 
production, and consequently also the reproduction, of this 

1 The capitalist epoch is therefore characterised by this, that labour 
power takes in the eyes of the labourer himself the form of a commodity which 
is his property; his labour consequently becomes wage-labour. On the other 
hand, it is only from this moment that the produce of labour universally 
becomes a commodity. 

2 "The value or worth of a man, is as of all other things his price — that 
is to say, so much as would be given for the use of his power." (Th. Hobbes: 
"Leviathan" in Works, Ed Molesworth. Lond. 1839-44, v. iii, p. 76.) 


special article. So far as it has value, it represents no more than 
a definite quantity of the average labour of society incorporated 
in it. Labour-power exists only as a capacity, or power of the 
living individual. Its production consequently pre-supposes his 
existence. Given the individual, the production of labour-power 
consists in his reproduction of himself or his maintenance. For 
his maintenance he requires a given quantity of the means of sub- 
sistence. Therefore the labour-time requisite for the production 
of labour-power reduces itself to that necessary for the production 
of those means of subsistence; in other words, the value of labour- 
power is the value of the means of subsistence necessary for the 
maintenance of the labourer. Labour-power, however, becomes a 
reality only by its exercise; it sets itself in action only by working. 
But thereby a definite quantity of human muscle, nerve, brain, 
&c, is wasted, and these require to be restored. This increased 
expenditure demands a larger income. 1 If the owner of labour- 
power works to-day, to-morrow he must again be able to repeat 
the same process in the same conditions as regards health and 
strength. His means of subsistence must therefore be sufficient 
to maintain him in his normal state as a labouring individual. 
His natural wants, such as food, clothing, fuel, and housing, vary 
according to the climatic and other physical conditions of his 
country. On the other hand, the number and extent of his so-called 
necessary wants, as also the modes of satisfying them, are them- 
selves the product of historical development, and depend there- 
fore to a great extent on the degree of civilisation of a country, 
more particularly on the conditions under which, and consequent- 
ly on the habits and degree of comfort in which, the class of free 
labourers has been formed. 2 In contradistinction therefore to 
the case of other commodities, there enters into the determination 
of the value of labour-power a historical and moral element. 
Nevertheless, in a given country, at a given period, the average 
quantity of the means of subsistence necessary for the labourer 
is practically known. 

The owner of labour-power is mortal. If then his appearance 
in the market is to be continuous, and the continuous conversion 
of money into capital assumes this, the seller of labour-power 
must perpetuate himself, "in the way that every living individual 

1 Hence the Roman Villieus, as overlooker of the agricultural slaves, 
received "more meagre fare than working slaves, because his work was 
lighter." (Th. Mommsen, Rom. Geschichte, 1856, p. 810.) 

2 Compare W. Th. Thornton: "Over-population and its Remedy,'* 
Lond., 1846. 


perpetuates himself, by procreation." 1 The labour-power with- 
drawn from the market by wear and tear and death, must be 
continually replaced by, at the very least, an equal amount of 
fresh labour-power. Hence the sum of the means of subsistence 
necessary for the production of labour-power must include the 
means necessary for the labourer's substitutes, i.e., his children, 
in order that this race of peculiar commodity-owners may perpet- 
uate its appearance in the market. 2 

In order to modify the human organism, so that it may ac- 
quire skill and handiness in a given branch of industry, and 
become labour-power of a special kind, a special education or 
training is requisite, and this, on its part, costs an equivalent 
in commodities of a greater or less amount. This amount varies 
according to the more or less complicated character of the 
labour-power. The expenses of this education (excessively small 
in the case of ordinary labour-power), enter pro tanto into the 
total value spent in its production. 

The value of labour-power resolves itself into the value of a 
definite quantity of the means of subsistence. It therefore varies 
with the value of these means or with the quantity of labour 
requisite for their production. 

Some of the means of subsistence, such as food and fuel, are 
consumed daily, and a fresh supply must be provided daily. 
Others such as clothes and furniture last for longer periods and 
require to be replaced only at longer intervals. One article must 
be bought or paid for daily, another weekly, another quarterly, 
and so on. But in whatever way the sum total of these outlays 
may be spread over the year, they must be covered by the average 
income, taking one day with another. If the total of the commodi- 
ties required daily for the production of labour-power = A, and 
those required weekly ==B, and those required quarterly = C, and 

so on, the daily average of these commodities =— — ' ^~ — i— m 

Suppose that in this mass of commodities requisite for the average 
day there are embodied 6 hours of social labour, then there is 
incorporated daily in labour-power half a day's average social 

1 Petty. 

2 "Its (labour's) natural price ... consists in such- a quantity of 
necessaries and comforts of life, as, from the nature of the climate, and 
the habits of the country, are necessary to support the labourer, and to 
enable him to rear such a family as may preserve, in the market, an un- 
diminished supply of labour." (R. Torrens: "An Essay on the External 
Corn Trade." Lond. 1815, p. 62.) The word labour is here wrongly used 
for labour-power. 


labour, in other words, half a day's labour is requisite for the 
daily production of labour-power. This quantity of labour forms 
the value of a day's labour-power or the value of the labour-power 
daily reproduced. If half a day's average social labour is incor- 
porated in three shillings, then three shillings is the price corre- 
sponding to the value of a day's labour-power. If its owner therefore 
offers it for sale at three shillings a day, its selling price is equal 
to its value, and according to our supposition, our friend Money- 
bags, who is intent upon converting his three shillings into capi- 
tal, pays this value. 

The minimum limit of the value of labour-power is deter- 
mined by the value of the commodities, without the daily supply 
of which the labourer cannot renew his vital energy, consequently 
by the value of those means of subsistence that are physically 
indispensable. If the price of labour-power fall to this minimum, 
it falls below its value, since under such circumstances it can be 
maintained and developed only in a crippled state. But the value 
of every commodity is determined by the labour-time requisite 
to turn it out so as to be of normal quality. 

It is a very cheap sort of sentimentality which declares this 
method of determining the value of labour-power, a method 
prescribed by the very nature of the case, to be a brutal method, 
and which wails with Rossi that, "To comprehend capacity for 
labour (puissance de travail) at the same time that we make 
abstraction from the means of subsistence of the labourers during 
the process of production, is to comprehend a phantom (etre de 
raison). When we speak of labour, or capacity for labour, we 
speak at the same time of the labourer and his means of subsist' 
ence, of labourer and wages." 1 When we speak of capacity for 
labour, we do not speak of labour, any more than when we speak 
of capacity for digestion, we speak of digestion. The latter process 
requires something more than a good stomach. When we speak 
of capacity for labour, we do not abstract from the necessary 
means of subsistence. On the contrary, their value is expressed 
in its value. If his capacity for labour remains unsold, the labourer 
derives no benefit from it, but rather he will feel it to be a cruel 
nature-imposed necessity that this capacity has cost for its pro- 
duction a definite amount of the means of subsistence and that 
it will continue to do so for its reproduction. He will then agree 
with Sismondi: "that capacity for labour ... is nothing unless it 
is sold." 2 

1 Rossi. "Cours d'Econ. Polit.," Bruxelles, 1842, p. 370. 

2 Sismondi; "Nouv. Princ. etc.," t. I, p. 112. 


One consequence of the peculiar nature of labour-power as a 
commodity is, that its use-value does not, on the conclusion of 
the contract between the buyer and seller, immediately pass 
into the hands of the former. Its value, like that of every other 
commodity, is already fixed before it goes into circulation, since 
a definite quantity of social labour has been spent upon it; but 
its use-value consists in the subsequent exercise of its force. The 
alienation of labour-power and its actual appropriation by the 
buyer, its employment as a use-value, are separated by an inter- 
val of time. But in those cases in which the formal alienation by 
sale of the use-value of a commodity, is not simultaneous with 
its actual delivery to the buyer, the money of the latter usually 
functions as means of payment. 1 In every country in which the 
capitalist mode of production reigns, it is the custom not to pay 
for labour-power before it has been exercised for the period fixed 
by the contract, as for example, the end of each week. In all 
cases, therefore, the use-value of the labour-power is advanced 
to the capitalist: the labourer allows the buyer to consume it 
before he receives payment of the price; he everywhere gives 
credit to the capitalist. That this credit is no mere fiction, is 
shown not only by the occasional loss of wages on the bankruptcy 
of the capitalist, 2 but also by a series of more enduring conse- 
quences. 3 Nevertheless, whether money serves as a means of 

1 "All labour is paid after it has ceased." ("An Inquiry into those Prin- 
ciples Respecting the Nature of Demand," &c, p. 104.) "Le credit commer- 
cial a du commencer au moment ou l'ouvrier, premier artisan de la produc- 
tion, a pu, au moyen de ses economies, attendre le salaire de son travail jusqu' 
a la fin de la semaine, de la quinzaine, du mois, du trimestre, &.c." (Ch. Ga- 
nilh: "Des Systemes d'Econ. Polit." 2eme edit. Paris, 1821, t. II, p 150.) 

2 "L'ouvrier prete son industrie," but adds Storch slyly: he "risks noth- 
ing" except "de perdre son salaire ... l'ouvrier ne transmet rien de materiel." 
(Storch: "Gours d'Econ. Polit." Petersbourg, 1815, t. II., p. 37.) 

8 One example. In London there are two sorts of bakers, the "full priced," 
who sell bread at its full value, and the "undersellers," who sell it under 
its value. The latter class comprises more than three-fourths of the total 
number of bakers, (p. xxxii in the Report of H. S. Tremenheere, commis 
sioner to examine into "the grievances complained of by the journeymen 
bakers," &c, Lond. 1862.) The undersellers, almost without exception, 
sell bread adulterated with alum, soap, pearl ashes, chalk, Derbyshire stone- 
dust, and such like agreeable nourishing and wholesome ingredients. (See 
the above cited Blue book, as also the report of "the committee of 1855 on 
the adulteration of bread," and Dr. Hassall's "Adulterations Detected," 
2nd Ed. Lond. 1861.) Sir John Gordon stated before the committee of 1855, 
that "in consequence of these adulterations, the poor man, who lives on two 
pounds of bread a day, does not now get one fourth part of nourishing matter, 
let alone the deleterious effects on his health." Tremenheere states (1. c, 
p. xlviii), as the reason, why a very large part of the working-class, although 


purchase or as .a means of payment, this makes no alteration in 
the nature of the exchange of commodities. The price of the la- 
bour-power is fixed by the contract, although it is not realised 
till later, like the rent of a house. The labour-power is sold, al- 
though it is only paid for at a later period. It will, therefore, be 
useful, for a clear comprehension of the relation of the parties, 
to assume provisionally, that the possessor of labour-power, 
on the occasion of each sale, immediately receives the price stip- 
ulated to be paid for it. 

We now know how the value paid by the purchaser to the 
possessor of this peculiar commodity, labour-power, is determined. 
The use-value which the former gets in exchange, manifests itself 
only in the actual usufruct, in the consumption of the labour- 
power. The money-owner buys everything necessary for this 
purpose, such as raw material, in the market, and pays for it at 
its full value. The consumption of labour-power is at one and 
the same time the production of commodities and of surplus-value. 
The consumption of labour-power is completed, as in the case of 
every other commodity, outside the limits of the market or of 

well aware of this adulteration, nevertheless accept the alum, stone-dust, 
&c, as part of their purchase: that it is for them "a matter of necessity to 
take from their baker or from the chandler's shop, such bread as they choose 
to supply." As they are not paid their wages before the end ot the week, 
they in their turn are unable "to pay for the bread consumed by their tami- 
lies during the week, before the end of the week," and Tremenheere adds on 
the evidence of witnesses, "it is notorious that bread composed of those mix- 
tures is made expressly for sale in this manner." In many English and 
still more Scotch agricultural districts, wages are paid fortnightly and 
even monthly; with such long intervals between the payments, the agri- 
cultural labourer is obliged to buy on credit... He must pay higher prices, 
and is in fact tied to the shop which gives him credit Thus at Horningham 
in Wilts for example, where the wages are monthly, the same flour that he 
could buy elsewhere at Is lOd per stone, costs him 2s 4d per stone, ('bixtn 
Report" on "Public Health" by "The Medical Officer ot the Privy Council, 
&c 1864 " p 264.) "The block printers of Paisley and Kilmarnock entorced, 
bv a strike, fortnightly, instead of monthly payment ot wages." ("Reports 
of the Injectors of Factories for 31st Oct., 1853," p 34.) As a further pretty 
result of the credit given by the workmen to the capitalist, we may reler to 
the method current in many English coal mines, where the labourer is not 
paid till the end of the month, and in the meantime, receives sums on account 
from the capitalist, often in goods for which the miner is obliged to pay 
more than the market price (Truck-system). "It is a common practice with 
the coal masters to pay once a month, and advance cash to their workmen at 
the end of each intermediate week. The cash is given in the shop" {i.e., the 
Tommy shop which belongs to the master), "the men take it on one side and 
lay it out on the other." ("Children's Employment Commission, III. Report, 
Lond 1864, p. 38, n. 192.) 


the sphere of circulation. Accompanied by Mr. Moneybags and 
by the possessor of labour-power, we therefore take leave for a 
time of this noisy sphere, where everything takes place on the 
surface and in view of all men, and follow them both into the 
hidden abode of production, on whose threshold there stares us 
in the face "No admittance except on business." Here we shall 
see, not only how capital produces, but how capital is produced. 
We shall at last force the secret of profit making. 

This sphere that we are deserting, within whose boundaries 
the sale and purchase of labour-power goes on, is in fact a very 
Eden of the innate rights of man. There alone rule Freedom, 
Equality, Property and Bentham. Freedom, because both buyer and 
seller of a commodity, say of labour-power, are constrained only 
by their own free will. They contract as free agents, and the 
agreement they come to, is but the form in which they give legal 
expression to their common will. Equality, because each enters 
into relation with the other, as with a simple owner of commodi- 
ties, and they exchange equivalent for equivalent. Property, 
because each disposes only of what is his own. And Bentham, 
because each looks only to himself. The only force that brings 
them together and puts them in relation with each other, is the 
selfishness, the gain and the private interests of each. Each looks 
to himself only, and no one troubles himself about the rest, and 
just because they do so, do they all, in accordance with the pre- 
established harmony of things, or under the auspices of an all- 
shrewd providence, work together to their mutual advantage, 
for the common weal and in the interest of all. 

On leaving this sphere of simple circulation or of exchange 
of commodities, which furnishes the "Free-trader Vulgaris" with 
his views and ideas, and with the standard by which he judges 
a society based on capital and wages, we think we can perceive 
a change in the physiognomy of our dramatis persona?. He, who 
before was the money-owner, now strides in front as capitalist; 
the possessor of labour-power follows as his labourer. The one 
with an air of importance, smirking, intent on business; the 
other, timid and holding back, like one who is bringing his own 
hide to market and has nothing to expect but — a hiding. 






The capitalist buys labour-power in order to use it; and labour- 
power in use is labour itself. The purchaser of labour-power 
consumes it by setting the seller of it to work. By working, the 
latter becomes actually, what before he only was potentially, 
labour-power in action, a labourer. In order that his labour may 
re -appear in a commodity, he must, before all things, expend it 
on something useful, on something capable of satisfying a want 
of some sort. Hence, what the capitalist sets the labourer to pro- 
duce, is a particular use-value, a specified article. The fact that 
the production of use-values, or goods, is carried on under the 
control of a capitalist and on his behalf, does not alter the general 
character of that production. We shall, therefore, in the first 
place, have to consider the labour-process independently of the 
particular form it assumes under given social conditions. 

Labour is, in the first place, a process in which both man 
and Nature participate, and in which man of his own accord 
starts, regulates, and controls the material re-actions between 
himself and Nature. He opposes himself to Nature as one of her 
own forces, setting in motion arms and legs, head and hands, 
the natural forces of his body, in order to appropriate Nature's 
productions in a form adapted to his own wants. By thus acting 
on the external world and changing it, he at the same time changes 
his own nature. He develops his slumbering powers and compels 
them to act in obedience to his sway, We are not now dealing 


with those primitive instinctive forms of labour that remind 
us of the mere animal. An immeasurable interval of time sepa- 
rates the state of things in which a man brings his labour-power 
to market for sale as a commodity, from that state in which hu- 
man labour was still in its first instinctive stage. We pre-suppose 
labour in a form that stamps it as exclusively human. A spider 
conducts operations that resemble those of a weaver, and a bee 
puts to shame many an architect in the construction of her cells. 
But what distinguishes the worst architect from the best of bees 
is this, that the architect raises his structure in imagination be- 
fore he erects it in reality. At the end of every labour-process, 
we get a result that already existed in the imagination of the la- 
bourer at its commencement. He not only effects a change of form in 
the material on which he works, but he also realises a purpose 
of his own that gives the law to his modus operandi, and to which 
he must subordinate his will. And this subordination is no mere 
momentary act. Besides the exertion of the bodily organs, the 
process demands that, during the whole operation, the workman's 
will be steadily in consonance with his purpose. This means close 
attention. The less he is attracted by the nature of the work, and 
the mode in which it is carried on, and the less, therefore, he 
enjoys it as something which gives play to his bodily and men- 
tal powers, the more close his attention is forced to be. 

The elementary factors of the labour-process are 1, the per- 
sonal activity of man, i.e., work itself, 2, the subject of that 
work, and 3, its instruments. 

The soil (and this, economically speaking, includes water) in 
the virgin state in which it supplies 1 man with necessaries or 
the means of subsistence ready to hand, exists independently 
of him, and is the universal subject of human labour. All those 
things which labour merely separates from immediate connexion 
with their environment, are subjects of labour spontaneously pro- 
vided by Nature. Such are fish which we catch and take from their 
element, water, timber which we fell in the virgin forest, and 
ores which we extract from their veins. If, on the other hand, 
the subject of labour has, so to say, been filtered through previous 
labour, we call it raw material; such is ore already extracted and 
ready for washing. All raw material is the subject of labour, but 

1 "The earth's spontaneous productions being in small quantity, and 
quite independent of man, appear, as it were, to be furnished by Nature, in 
the same way as a small sum is given to a young man, in order to put him 
in a way of industry, and of making his fortune." (James Steuart: "Principles 
of Polit. Econ." edit. Dublin, 1770, v. I, p. 116.) 


not every subject of labour is raw material: it can only become so, 
after it has undergone some alteration by means of labour. 

An instrument of labour is a thing, or a complex of things, 
which the labourer interposes between himself and the subject 
of his labour, and which serves as the conductor of his activity. 
He makes use of the mechanical, physical, and chemical prop- 
erties of some substances in order to make other substances 
subservient to his aims. * Leaving out of consideration such 
ready-made means of subsistence as fruits, in gathering which 
a man's own limbs serve as the instruments of his labour, the 
first thing of which the labourer possesses himself is not the sub- 
ject of labour but its instrument. Thus Nature becomes one of 
the organs of his activity, one that he annexes to his own bodily 
organs, adding stature to himself in spite of the Bible. As the 
earth is his original larder, so too it is his original tool house. 
It supplies him, for instance, with stones for throwing, grinding, 
pressing, cutting, &c. The earth itself is an instrument of labour, 
but when used as such in agriculture implies a whole series of 
other instruments and a comparatively high development of la- 
bour. 2 No sooner does labour undergo the least development, 
than it requires specially prepared instruments. Thus in the old- 
est caves we find stone implements and weapons. In the earliest 
period of human history domesticated animals, i.e., animals 
which have been bred for the purpose, and have undergone modi- 
fications by means of labour, play the chief part as instruments 
of labour along with specially prepared stones, wood, bones, 
and shells. 3 The use and fabrication of instruments of labour, al- 
though existing in the germ among certain species of animals, is 
specifically characteristic of the human labour-process, and Frank- 
lin therefore defines man as a tool-making animal. Relics of by- 
gone instruments of labour possess the same importance for the 
investigation of extinct economic forms of society, as do fossil 

1 "Reason is just as cunning as she is powerful. Her cunning consists 
principally in her mediating activity, which, by causing objects to act and 
re-act on each other in accordance with their own nature, in this way, without 
any direct interference in the process, carries out reason's intentions." (He- 
gel: "Enzyklopadie, Erster Theil, Die Logik," Berlin, 1840, p 382.) 

2 In his otherwise miserable work ("Theorie de l'Econ. Polit." Paris, 
1815), Ganilh enumerates in a striking manner in opposition to the "Physio- 
crats" the long series of previous processes necessary before agriculture 
properly so called can commence. 

3 Turgot in his "Reflexions sur la Formation et la Distribution des 
Richesses" (1766) brings well into prominence the importance of domesti- 
cated animals to early civilisation. 


bones for the determination of extinct species of animals. It is 
not the articles made, but how they are made, and by what instru- 
ments, that enables us to distinguish different economic epochs. * 
Instruments of labour not only supply a standard of the degree 
of development to which human labour has attained, but they are 
also indicators of the social conditions under which that labour is 
carried on. Among the instruments of labour, those of a mechanical 
nature, which, taken as a whole, we may call the bone and mus- 
cles of production, offer much more decided characteristics of 
a given epoch of production, than those which, like pipes, tubs, 
baskets, jars, &c, serve only to hold the materials for labour, 
which latter class, we may in a general way, call the vascular 
system of production. The latter first begins to play an important 
part in the chemical industries. 

In a wider sense we may include among the instruments of 
labour, in addition to those things that are used for directly 
transferring labour to its subject, and which therefore, in one 
way or another, serve as conductors of activity, all such objects 
as are necessary for carrying on the labour-process. These do 
not enter directly into the process, but without them it is either 
impossible for it to take place at all, or possible only to a par- 
tial extent. Once more we find the earth to be a universal in- 
strument of this sort, for it furnishes a locus standi to the labourer 
and a field of employment for his activity. Among instruments 
that are the result of previous labour and also belong to this 
class, we find workshops, canals, roads, and so forth. 

In the labour-process, therefore, man's activity, with the help 
of the instruments of labour, effects an alteration, designed from 
the commencement, in the material worked upon. The process 
disappears in the product; the latter is a use-value, Nature's 
material adapted by a change of form to the wants of man. La- 
bour has incorporated itself with its subject: the former is mate- 
rialised, the latter transformed. That which in the labourer ap- 
peared as movement, now appears in the product as a fixed quality 
without motion. The blacksmith forges and the product is a forging. 

1 The least important commodities of all for the technological compari- 
son of different epochs of production are articles of luxury, in the strict mean- 
ing of the term. However little our written histories up to this time notice 
the development of material production, which is the basis of all social life, 
and therefore of all real history, yet prehistoric times have been classified in 
accordance with the results, not of so-called historical, but of materialistic 
investigations. These periods have been divided, to correspond with the ma- 
terials from which their implements and weapons were made, viz., into 
the stone, the bronze, and the iron ages. 


If we examine the whole process from the point of view of 
its result, the product, it is plain that both the instruments and 
the subject of labour, are means of production, 1 and that the la- 
bour itself is productive labour. 2 

Though a use-value, in the form of a product, issues from 
the labour-process, yet other use-values, products of previous 
labour, enter into it as means of production. The same use-value 
is both the product of a previous process, and a means of pro- 
duction in a later process. Products are therefore not only results, 
but also essential conditions of labour. 

With the exception of the extractive industries, in which 
the material for labour is provided immediately by Nature, such 
as mining, hunting, fishing, and agriculture (so far as the latter 
is confined to breaking up virgin soil), all branches of industry 
manipulate raw material, objects already filtered through labour, 
already products of labour. Such is seed in agriculture. Animals 
and plants, which we are accustomed to consider as products of 
Nature, are in their present form, not only products of, say last 
year's labour, but the result of a gradual transformation, con- 
tinued through many generations, under man's superintendence, 
and by means of his labour. But in the great majority of cases, 
instruments of labour show even to the most superficial observer, 
traces of the labour of past ages. 

Raw material may either form the principal substance of a 
product, or it may enter into its formation only as an access 
sory. An accessory may be consumed by the instruments of la* 
bour, as coal under a boiler, oil by a wheel, hay by draft-horses, 
or it may be mixed with the raw material in order to produce some 
modification thereof, as chlorine into unbleached linen, coal 
with iron, dye-stuff with wool, or again, it may help to carry on 
the work itself, as in the case of the materials used for heating 
and lighting workshops. The distinction between principal sub- 
stance and accessory vanishes in the true chemical industries, be- 
cause there none of the raw material re-appears, in its original 
composition, in the substance of the product. 3 

1 It appears paradoxical to assert, that uncaught fish, for instance, 
are a means of production in the fishing industry. But hitherto no one ha3 
discovered the art of catching fish in waters that contain none. 

2 This method of determining, from the standpoint of the labour- 
process alone, what is productive labour, is by no means directly applicable 
to the case of the capitalist process of production. 

3 Storch calls true raw materials "matieres," and accessory material 
"materiaux." Gherbuliez describes accessories as "matieres instrumentales.'* 


Every object possesses various properties, and is thus capable 
of being applied to different uses. One and the same product 
may therefore serve as raw material in very different processes. 
Corn, for example, is a raw material for millers, starch-manu- 
facturers, distillers, and cattle-breeders. It also enters as raw ma- 
terial into its own production in the shape of seed; coal, too, 
is at the same time the product of, and a means of production 
in, coal-mining. 

Again, a particular product may be used in one and the same 
process, both as an instrument of labour and as raw material. 
Take, for instance, the fattening of cattle, where the animal is 
the raw material, and at the same time an instrument for the 
production of manure. 

A product, though ready for immediate consumption, may 
yet serve as raw material for a further product, as grapes when 
they become the raw material for wine. On the other hand, la- 
bour may give us its product in such a form, that we can use 
it only as raw material, as is the case with cotton, thread, and 
yarn. Such a raw material, though itself a product, may have 
to go through a whole series of different processes: in each of 
these in turn, it serves, with constantly varying form, as raw 
material, until the last process of the series leaves it a perfect 
product, ready for individual consumption, or for use as an in- 
strument of labour. 

Hence we see, that whether a use-value is to be regarded as 
raw material, as instrument of labour, or as product, this is deter- 
mined entirely by its function in the labour-process, by the posi- 
tion it there occupies: as this varies, so does its character. 

Whenever therefore a product enters as a means of produc- 
tion into a new labour-process, it thereby loses its character of 
product, and becomes a mere factor in the process. A spinner 
treats spindles only as implements for spinning, and flax only 
as the material that he spins. Of course it is impossible to spin 
without material and spindles; and therefore the existence of 
these things as products, at the commencement of the spinning 
operation, must be presumed: but in the process itself, the fact 
that they are products of previous labour, is a matter of utter 
indifference; just as in the digestive process, it is of no impor- 
tance whatever, that bread is the produce of the previous la- 
bour of the farmer, the miller, and the baker. On the contrary, 
it is generally by their imperfections as products, that the means 
of production in any process assert themselves in their character 
of products. A blunt knife or weak thread forcibly remind us of 


Mr. A., the cutler, or Mr. B., the spinner. In the finished product 
the labour by means of which it has acquired its useful qualities 
is not palpable, has apparently vanished. 

A machine which does not serve the purposes of labour, is 
useless. In addition, it falls a prey to the destructive influence 
of natural forces. Iron rusts and wood rots. Yarn with which 
we neither weave nor knit, is cotton wasted. Living labour must 
seize upon these things and rouse them from their death-sleep, 
change them from mere possible use-values into real and effective 
ones. Bathed in the fire of labour, appropriated as part and par- 
cel of labour's organism, and, as it were, made alive for the per- 
formance of their functions in the process, they are in truth con- 
sumed, but consumed with a purpose, as elementary constituents 
of new use-values, of new products, ever ready as means of sub- 
sistence for individual consumption, or as means of production 
for some new labour-process. 

If then, on the one hand, finished products are not only 
results, but also necessary conditions, of the labour-process, on 
the other hand, their assumption into that process, their contact 
with living labour, is the sole means by which they can be made 
to retain their character of use-values, and be utilised. 

Labour uses up its material factors, its subject and its in- 
struments, consumes them, and is therefore a process of consump- 
tion. Such productive consumption is distinguished from indi- 
vidual consumption by this, that the latter uses up products, as 
means of subsistence for the living individual; the former, as 
means whereby alone, labour, the labour-power of the living 
individual, is enabled to act. The product, therefore, of individ- 
ual consumption, is the consumer himself, the result of productive 
consumption, is a product distinct from the consumer. 

In so far then, as its instruments and subjects are themselves 
products, labour consumes products in order to create products, 
or in other words, consumes one set of products by turning them 
into means of production for another set. But, just as in the 
beginning, the only participators in the labour-process were man 
and the earth, which latter exists independently of man, so even 
now we still employ in the process many means of production, 
provided directly by Nature, that do not represent any combina- 
tion of natural substances with human labour. 

The labour-process, resolved as above into its simple elemen- 
tary factors, is human action with a view to the production of 
use-values, appropriation of natural substances to human re- 
quirements; it is the necessary condition for effecting exchange 


of matter between man and Nature; it is the everlasting Nature- 
imposed condition of human existence, and therefore is inde- 
pendent of every social phase of that existence, or rather, is com- 
mon to every such phase. It was, therefore, not necessary to rep- 
resent our labourer in connexion with other labourers; man and 
his labour on one side, Nature and its materials on the other, 
sufficed. As the taste of the porridge does not tell you who grew 
the oats, no more does this simple process tell you of itself what 
are the social conditions under which it is taking place, wheth- 
er under the slave-owner's brutal lash, or the anxious eye of the 
capitalist, whether Cincinnatus carries it on in tilling his modest 
farm or a savage in killing wild animals with stones. 1 

Let us now return to our would-be capitalist. We left him 
just after he had purchased, in the open market, all the necessary 
factors of the labour-process; its objective factors, the means of 
production, as well as its subjective factor, labour-power. With 
the keen eye of an expert, he has selected the means of production 
and the kind of labour-power best adapted to his particular trade, 
be it spinning, bootmaking, or any other kind. He then proceeds to 
consume the commodity, the labour-power that he has just bought, 
by causing the labourer, the impersonation of that labour-power, 
to consume the means of production by his labour. The general 
character of the labour-process is evidently not changed by the 
fact, that the labourer works for the capitalist instead of for him- 
self; moreover, the particular methods and operations employed 
in bootmaking or spinning are not immediately changed by the 
intervention of the capitalist. He must begin by taking the la- 
bour-power as he finds it in the market, and consequently be sat- 
isfied with labour of such a kind as would be found in the period 
immediately preceding the rise of capitalists. Changes in the 
methods of production by the subordination of labour to capital, 
can take place only at a later period, and therefore will have to 
be treated of in a later chapter. 

The labour-process, turned into the process by which the 
capitalist consumes labour-power, exhibits two characteristic 
phenomena. First, the labourer works under the control of the 

1 By a wonderful feat of logical acumen, Colonel Torrens has discov- 
ered, in this stone of the savage the origin of capital. "In the first stone which 
he [the savage] flings at the wild animal he pursues, in the first stick that he 
seizes to strBe down the fruit which hangs above his reach, we see the ap- 
propriation of one article for the purpose of aiding in jthe acquisition of an- 
other, and thus discover the origin of capital." (R. Torrens: "An Essay on 
the Production of Wealth," &c, pp. 70-71). 


capitalist to whom his labour belongs; the capitalist taking 
good care that the work is done in a proper manner, and that 
the means of production are used with intelligence, so that 
there is no unnecessary waste of raw material, and no wear and 
tear of the implements beyond what is necessarily caused by 
the work. 

Secondly, the product is the property of the capitalist and 
not that of the labourer, its immediate producer. Suppose that a 
capitalist pays for a day's labour-power at its value; then the right 
to use that power for a day belongs to him, just as much as the 
right to use any other commodity, such as a horse that he has 
hired for the day. To the purchaser of a commodity belongs its 
use, and the seller of labour-power, by giving his labour, does 
no more, in reality, than part with the use-value that he has sold. 
From the instant he steps into the workshop, the use-value of 
his labour-power, and therefore also its use, which is labour, be- 
longs to the capitalist. By the purchase of labour-power, the cap- 
italist incorporates labour, as a living ferment, with the lifeless 
constituents of the product. From his point of view, the labour- 
process is nothing more than the consumption of the commodity 
purchased, i.e., of labour-power; but this consumption cannot be 
effected except by supplying the labour-power with the means 
of production. The labour-process is a process between things 
that the capitalist has purchased, things that have become his 
property. The product of this process belongs, therefore, to him, 
just as much as does the wine which is the product of a process 
of fermentation completed in his cellar. 1 

1 "Products are appropriated before they are converted into capital; 
this conversion does not secure them from such appropriation." (Cherbu- 
liez: "Richesse ou Pauvrete," edit. Paris, 1841, p. 54.) "The Proletarian, by 
selling his labour for a definite quantity of the necessaries of life, renounces 
all claim to a share in the product. The mode of appropriation of the prod- 
ucts remains the same as before; it is in no way altered by the bargain we 
have mentioned. The product belongs exclusively to the capitalist, who sup- 
plied the raw "material and the necessaries of life; and this is a rigorous con- 
sequence of the law of appropriation, a law whose fundamental principle was 
the very opposite, namely, that every labourer has an exclusive right to 
the ownership of what he produces." (1. c, p. 58.) "When the labourers receive 
wages for their labour ... the capitalist is then the owner not of the capital 
only" (he means the means of production) "but of the labour also. If what 
is paid as wages is included, as it commonly is, in the term capital, it is ab- 
surd to talk of labour separately from capital, The word capital as thus em- 
ployed includes labour and capital both." (James Mill: "Elements of Pol. 
Econ.," &.c. Ed. 1821, pp. 70, 71.) 



The product appropriated by the capitalist is a use-value, as 
yarn, for example, or boots. But, although boots are, in one 
sense, the basis of all social progress, and our capitalist is a de- 
cided "progressist," yet he does not manufacture boots for their 
own sake. Use-value is, by no means, the thing "qu'on aime 
pour lui-meme" in the production of commodities. Use-values 
are only produced by capitalists, because, and in so far as, they 
are the material substratum, the depositories of exchange-value. 
Our capitalist has two objects in view: in the first place, he wants 
to produce a use-value that has a value in exchange, that is to 
say, an article destined to be sold, a commodity; and secondly, 
he desires to produce a commodity whose value shall be greater 
than the sum of the values of the commodities used in its pro- 
duction, that is, of the means of production and the labour-power, 
that he purchased with his good money in the open market. His 
aim is to produce not only a use-value, but a commodity also; 
not only use-value, but value; not only value, but at the same 
time surplus-value. 

It must be borne in mind, that we are now dealing with the 
production of commodities, and that, up to this point, we have only 
considered one aspect of the process. Just as commodities are, 
at the same time, use-values and values, so the process of pro* 
ducing them must be a labour-process, and at the same time, a 
process of creating value. 1 

Let us now examine production as a creation of value. 

We know that the value of each commodity is determined 
by the quantity of labour expended on and materialised in it, 
by the working-time necessary, under given social conditions, 
for its production. This rule also holds good in the case of the 
product that accrued to our capitalist, as the result of the labour- 
process carried on for him. Assuming this product to be 10 lbs. 
of yarn, our first step is to calculate the quantity of labour real- 
ised in it. 

For spinning the yarn, raw material is required; suppose in 
this case 10 lbs. of cotton. We have no need at present to in- 
vestigate the value of this cotton, for our capitalist has, we will 

1 As has been stated in a previous note, the English language has two 
different expressions for these two different aspects of labour: in the Simple 
Labour-process, the process of producing Use-Values, it is Work; in the 
process of creation of Value, it is Labour, taking the term in its strictly eco- 
nomic sense. — F. E. 


assume, bought it at its full value, say of ten shillings. In this 
price the labour required for the production of the cotton is al- 
ready expressed in terms of the average labour of society. We will 
further assume that the wear and tear of the spindle, which, for 
our present purpose, may represent all other instruments of la- 
bour employed, amounts to the value of 2s. If, then, twenty-four 
hours' labour, or two working-days, are required to produce the 
quantity of gold represented by twelve shillings, we have here, 
to begin with, two days' labour already incorporated in the yarn. 

We must not let ourselves be misled by the circumstance 
that the cotton has taken a new shape while the substance of 
the spindle has to a certain extent been used up. By the general 
law of value, if the value of 40 lbs. of yarn=the value of 40 
lbs. of cotton+the value of a whole spindle, i.e., if the same 
working-time is required to produce the commodities on either 
side of this equation, then 10 lbs. of yarn are an equivalent for 
10 lbs. of cotton, together with one-fourth of a spindle. In the 
case we are considering the same working-time is materialised 
in the 10 lbs. of yarn on the one hand, and in the 10 lbs. of cotton 
and the fraction of a spindle on the other. Therefore, whether 
value appears in cotton, in a spindle, or in yarn, makes no differ- 
ence in the amount of that value. The spindle and cotton, in- 
stead of resting quietly side by side, join together in the process, 
their forms are altered, and they are turned into yarn; but their 
value is no more affected by this fact than it would be if they had 
been simply exchanged for their equivalent in yarn. 

The labour required for the production of the cotton, the 
raw material of the yarn, is part of the labour necessary to pro- 
duce the yarn, and is therefore contained in the yarn. The same 
applies to the labour embodied in the spindle, without whose 
wear and tear the cotton could not be spun. 

Hence, in determining the value of the yarn, or the labour- 
time required for its production, all the special processes carried 
on at various times and in different places, which were necessary, 
first to produce the cotton and the wasted portion of the spindle, 
and then with the cotton and spindle to spin the yarn, may to- 
gether be looked on as different and successive phases of one and 
the same process. The whole of the labour in the yarn is past la- 
bour; and it is a matter of no importance that the operations nec- 
essary for the production of its constituent elements were car- 
ried on at times which, referred to the present, are more remote 
than the final operation of spinning. If a definite quantity of la- 
bour, say thirty days, is requisite to build a house, the total 


amount of labour incorporated in it is not altered by the fact that 
the work of the last day is done twenty-nine days later than that 
of the first. Therefore the labour contained in the raw material 
and the instruments of labour can be treated just as if it were la- 
bour expended in an earlier stage of the spinning process, before 
the labour of actual spinning commenced. 

The values of the means of production, i.e., the cotton and the 
spindle, which values are expressed in the price of twelve shil- 
lings, are therefore constituent parts of the value of the yarn, 
or, in other words, of the value of the product. 

Two conditions must nevertheless be fulfilled. First, the 
cotton and spindle must concur in the production of a use-value; 
they must in the present case become yarn. Value is independent 
of the particular use-value by which it is borne, but it must be 
embodied in a use-value of some kind. Secondly, the time occupied 
in the labour of production must not exceed the time really nec- 
essary under the given social conditions of the case. Therefore, 
if no more than 1 lb. of cotton be requisite to spin 1 lb. of 
yarn, care must be taken that no more than this weight of cotton 
is consumed in the production of 1 lb. of yarn; and similarly 
with regard to the spindle. Though the capitalist have a hobby, 
and use a gold instead of a steel spindle, yet the only labour 
that counts for anything in the value of the yarn is that which 
would be required to produce a steel spindle, because no more 
is necessary under the given social conditions. 

We now know what portion of the value of the yarn is ow- 
ing to the cotton and the spindle. It amounts to twelve shillings 
or the value of two days' work. The next point for our consideration 
is, what portion of the value of the yarn is added to the cotton by 
the labour of the spinner. 

We have now to consider this labour under a very different 
aspect from that which it had during the labour-process; there, 
we viewed it solely as that particular kind of human activity 
which changes cotton into yarn; there, the more the labour was 
suited to the work, the better the yarn, other circumstances 
remaining the same. The labour of the spinner was then viewed 
as specifically different from other kinds of productive labour, 
different on the one hand in its special aim, viz., spinning, differ- 
ent, on the other hand, in the special character of its operations, 
in the special nature of its means of production and in the special 
use-value of its product. For the operation of spinning, cotton 
and spindles are a necessity, but for making rifled cannon they 
would be of no use whatever. Here, on the contrary, where we con- 


sider the labour of the spinner only so far as it is value-creating, 
i.e., a source of value, his labour differs in no respect from the la- 
bour of the man who bores cannon, or (what here more nearly con- 
cerns us), from the labour of the cotton-planter and spindle-maker 
incorporated in the means of production. It is solely by reason of 
this identity, that cotton planting, spindle making and spinning, 
are capable of forming the component parts, differing only quan- 
titatively from each other, of one whole, namely, the value of the 
yarn. Here, we have nothing more to do with the quality, the na- 
ture and the specific character of the labour, but merely with its 
quantity. And this simply requires to be calculated. We proceed 
upon the assumption that spinning is simple, unskilled labour, 
the average labour of a given state of society. Hereafter we shall 
see that the contrary assumption would make no difference. 

While the labourer is at work, his labour constantly under- 
goes a transformation: from being motion, it becomes an object 
without motion; from being the labourer working, it becomes 
the thing produced. At the end of one hour's spinning, that 
act is represented by a definite quantity of yarn; in other words, 
a definite quantity of labour, namely that of one hour, has become 
embodied in the cotton. We say labour, i.e., the expenditure 
of his vital force by the spinner, and not spinning labour, because 
the special work of spinning counts here, only so far as it is the 
expenditure of labour-power in general, and not in so far as it 
is the specific work of the spinner. 

In the process we are now considering it is of extreme im- 
portance, that no more time be consumed in the work of trans- 
forming the cotton into yarn than is necessary under the given 
social conditions. If under normal, i.e., average social condi- 
tions of production, a pounds of cotton ought to be made into 
b pounds of yarn by one hour's labour, then a day's labour does 
not count as 12 hours' labour unless 12 a pounds of cotton have 
been made into 12 b pounds of yarn; for in the creation of value, 
the time that is socially necessary alone counts. 

Not only the labour, but also the raw material and the 
product now appear in quite a new light, very different from that 
in which we viewed them in the labour-process pure and simple. 
The raw material serves now merely as an absorbent of a definite 
quantity of labour. By this absorption it is in fact changed into 
yarn, because it is spun, because labour-power in the form of 
spinning is added to it; but the product, the yarn, is now nothing 
more than a measure of the labour absorbed by the cotton. If 
in one hour l4 lbs. of cotton can be spun into 1 J- lbs, of yarn, then 


10 lbs. of yarn indicate the absorption of 6 hours' labour. Definite 
quantities of product, these quantities being determined by ex- 
perience, now represent nothing but definite quantities of labour, 
definite masses of crystallised labour-time. They are nothing more 
than the materialisation of so many hours or so many days of so- 
cial labour. 

We are here no more concerned about the facts, that the 
labour is the specific work of spinning, that its subject is cotton 
and its product yarn, than we are about the fact that the subject 
itself is already a product and therefore raw material. If the spin- 
ner, instead of spinning, were working in a coal mine, the sub- 
ject of his labour, the coal, would be supplied by Nature; never- 
theless, a definite quantity of extracted coal, a hundredweight 
for example, would represent a definite quantity of absorbed la- 

We assumed, on the occasion of its sale, that the value of 
a day's labour-power is three shillings, and that six hours' labour 
is incorporated in that sum; and consequently that this amount 
of labour is requisite to produce the necessaries of life daily re- 
quired on an average by the labourer. If now our spinner by work- 
ing for one hour, can convert 1-| lbs. of cotton into 1-|- lbs. of 
yarn, * it follows that in six hours he will convert 10 lbs. of cot- 
ton into 10 lbs. of yarn. Hence, during the spinning process, the 
cotton absorbs six hours' labour. The same quantity of labour 
is also embodied in a piece of gold of the value of three shillings. 
Consequently by the mere labour of spinning, a value of three 
shillings is added to the cotton. 

Let us now consider the total value of the product, the 10 
lbs. of yarn. Two and a half days' labour has been embodied 
in it, of which two days were contained in the cotton and in the 
substance of the spindle worn away, and half a day was absorbed 
during the process of spinning. This two and a half days' labour 
is also represented by a piece of gold of the value of fifteen shil- 
lings. Hence, fifteen shillings is an adequate price for the 10 lbs. 
of yarn, or the price of one pound is eighteenpence. 

Our capitalist stares in astonishment. The value of the 
product is exactly equal to the value of the capital advanced. The 
value so advanced has not expanded, no surplus-value has been 
created, and consequently money has not been converted into 
capital. The price of the yarn is fifteen shillings, and fifteen shil- 
lings were spent in the open market upon the constituent elements 

1 These figures are quite arbitrary. 


of the product, or, what amounts to the same thing, upon the fac- 
tors of the labour-process; ten shillings were paid for the cotton, 
two shillings for the substance of the spindle worn away, and three- 
shillings for the labour-power. The swollen value of the yarn is 
of no avail, for it is merely the sum of the values formerly existing 
in the cotton, the spindle, and the labour-power: out of such a 
simple addition of existing values, no surplus-value can possibly 
arise. * These separate values are now all concentrated in one thing; 
but so they were also in the sum of fifteen shillings, before it was 
split up into three parts, by the purchase of the commodities. 

There is in reality nothing very strange in this result. The 
value of one pound of yarn being eighteenpence, if our capitalist 
buys 10 lbs. of yarn in the market, he must pay fifteen shillings 
for them. It is clear that, whether a man buys his house ready 
built, or gets it built for him, in neither case will the mode of 
acquisition increase the amount of money laid out on the house. 

Our capitalist, who is at home in his vulgar economy, ex- 
claims: "Oh! but I advanced my money for the express purpose 
of making more money." The way to Hell is paved with good inten- 
tions, and he might just as easily have intended to make money, 
without producing at all. 2 He threatens all sorts of things. He won't 
be caught napping again. In future he will buy the commodities 
in the market, instead of manufacturing them himself. But if 
all his brother capitalists were to do the same, where would he 
find his commodities in the market? And his money he cannot eat. 
He tries persuasion. "Consider my abstinence; I might have played 
ducks and drakes with the 15 shillings; but instead of that I con- 
sumed it productively, and made yarn with it." Very well, and 
by way of reward he is now in possession of good yarn instead of 
a bad conscience; and as for playing the part of a miser, it would 
never do for him to relapse into such bad ways as that; we have 

1 This is the fundamental proposition on which is based the doctrine 
of the Physiocrats as to the unproductiveness of all labour that is not agri- 
culture: it is irrefutable for the orthodox economist. "Cette facon d'imputer 
a une seule chose la valeur de plusieurs autres" (par exemple au lin la consom- 
mation du tisserand), "d'appliquer, pour ainsi dire, couche sur couche, plu- 
sieurs valeurs sur une seule, fait que celle-ci grossit d'autant.... Le terme 
d'addition peint tres-bien la maniere dont se forme le prix des ouvrages de 
main-d'oeuvre; ce prix n'est qu'un total de plusieurs valeurs consommees 
et additionnees ensemble; or, additionner n'est pas multiplier." ("Mercier 
de la Riviere," 1. c, p. 599.) 

2 Thus from 1844-47 he withdrew part of his capital from productive 
employment, in order to throw it away in railway speculations; and so also, 
during the American Civil War, he closed his factory, and turned his work- 
people into the streets, in order to gamble on the Liverpool cotton exchange. 


seen before to what results such asceticism leads. Besides, where 
nothing is, the king has lost his rights; whatever may be the merit 
of his abstinence, there is nothing wherewith specially to remu- 
nerate it, because the value of the product is merely the sum of the 
values of the commodities that were thrown into the process of pro- 
duction. Let him therefore console himself with the reflection that 
virtue is its own reward. But no, he becomes importunate. He says: 
"The yarn is of no use to me: I produced it for sale." In that case 
let him sell it, or, still better, let him for the future produce only 
things for satisfying his personal wants, a remedy that his phy- 
sician MacCulloch has already prescribed as infallible against 
an epidemic of over-production. He now gets obstinate. "Can 
the labourer," he asks, "merely with his arms and legs, produce 
commodities out of nothing? Did I not supply him with the mate- 
rials, by means of which, and in which alone, his labour could be 
embodied? And as the greater part of society consists of such ne'er- 
do-wells, have I not rendered society incalculable service by my 
instruments of production, my cotton and my spindle, and not 
only society, but the labourer also, whom in addition I have pro- 
vided with the necessaries of life? And am I to be allowed nothing 
in return for all this service?" Well, but has not the labourer 
rendered him the equivalent service of changing his cotton 
and spindle into yarn? Moreover, there is here no question 
of service. x A service is nothing more than the useful effect of a 
use-value, be it of a commodity, or be it of labour. 2 But here we are 
dealing with exchange-value. The capitalist paid to the labourer 
a value of 3 shillings, and the labourer gave him back an exact 
equivalent in the value of 3 shillings, added by him to the cotton: 
he gave him value for value. Our friend, up to this time so purse- 
proud, suddenly assumes the modest demeanour of his own work- 

1 "Extol thyself, put on finery and adorn thyself ... but whoever takes 
more or better than he gives, that is usury, and is not service, but wrong done 
to his neighbour, as when one steals and robs. All is not service and benefit 
to a neighbour that is called service and benefit. For an adulteress and adul- 
terer do one another great service and pleasure. A horseman does an incendiary 
a great service, by helping him to rob on the highway, and pillage land and 
houses. The papists do ours a great service, in that they don't drown, burn, 
murder all of them, or let them all rot in prison; but let some live, and only 
drive them out, or take from them what they have. The devil himself does 
his servants inestimable service.... To sum up, the world is full of great, 
excellent, and daily service and benefit." (Martin Luther: "An die Pfarrherrn 
wider den Wucher zu predigen," Wittenberg, 1540.) 

2 In "Zur Kritik der Pol. Oek.," p. 14, I make the following remark 
on this point — "It is not difficult to understand what 'service' the category 
'service' must render to a class of economists like J. B. Say and F. Bastiat." 


man, and exclaims: "Have I myself not worked? Have I not per- 
formed the labour of superintendence and of overlooking the spin- 
ner? And does not this labour, too, create value?" His overlooker 
and his manager try to hide their smiles. Meanwhile, after a 
hearty laugh, he re-assumes his usual mien. Though he chanted 
to us the whole creed of the economists, in reality, he says, he 
would not give a brass farthing for it. He leaves this and all such 
like subterfuges and juggling tricks to the professors of Political 
Economy, who are paid for it. He himself is a practical man; and 
though he does not always consider what he says outside his 
business, yet in his business he knows what he is about. 

Let us examine the matter more closely. The value of a day's 
labour-power amounts to 3 shillings, because on our assumption 
half a day's labour is embodied in that quantity of labour-power, 
i.e., because the means of subsistence that are daily required 
for the production of labour-power, cost half a day's labour. But 
the past labour that is embodied in the labour-power, and the liv- 
ing labour that it can call into action; the daily cost of maintain- 
ing it, and its daily expenditure in work, are two totally differ- 
ent things. The former determines the exchange-value of the la- 
bour-power, the latter is its use-value. The fact that half a day's 
labour is necessary to keep the labourer alive during 24 hours, 
does not in any way prevent him from working a whole day. 
Therefore, the value of labour-power, and the value which that la- 
bour-power creates in the labour-process, are two entirely differ- 
ent magnitudes; and this difference of the two values was what the 
capitalist had in view, when he was purchasing the labour-power. 
The useful qualities that labour-power possesses, and by virtue 
of which it makes yarn or boots, were to him nothing more than 
a conditio sine qua non; for in order to create value, labour must be 
expended in a useful manner. What really influenced him was 
the specific use-value which this commodity possesses of being 
a source not only of value, but of more value than it has itself. 
This is the special service that the capitalist expects from la- 
bour-power, and in this transaction he acts in accordance with 
the "eternal laws" of the exchange of commodities. The seller 
of labour-power, like the seller of any other commodity, realises 
its exchange-value, and parts with its use-value. He cannot take 
the one without giving the other. The use-value of labour-power, 
or in other words, labour, belongs just as little to its seller, as 
the use-value of oil after it has been sold belongs to the dealer 
who has sold it. The owner of the money has paid the value of 
a day's labour-power; his, therefore, is the use of it for a day, a 


day's labour belongs to him. The circumstance, that on the one 
hand the daily sustenance of labour-power costs only half a day's 
labour, while on the other hand the very same labour-power can 
work during a whole day, that consequently the value which its 
use during one day creates, is double what he pays for that use, 
this circumstance is, without doubt, a piece of good luck for the 
buyer, but by no means an injury to the seller. 

Our capitalist foresaw this state of things, and that was the 
cause of his laughter. The labourer therefore finds, in the work- 
shop, the means of production necessary for working, not only 
during six, but during twelve hours. Just as during the six hours' 
process our 10 lbs. of cotton absorbed six hours' labour, and 
became 10 lbs. of yarn, so now, 20 lbs. of cotton will absorb 12 
hours' labour and be changed into 20 lbs. of yarn. Let us now 
examine the product of this prolonged process. There is now mate- 
rialised in this 20 lbs. of yarn the labour of five days, of which 
four days are due to the cotton and the lost steel of the spindle, 
the remaining day having been absorbed by the cotton during 
the spinning process. Expressed in gold, the labour of five days 
is thirty shillings. This is therefore the price of the 20 lbs. of 
yarn, giving, as before, eighteenpence as the price of a pound. 
But the sum of the values of the commodities that entered into 
the process amounts to 27 shillings. The value of the yarn is 30 
shillings. Therefore the value of the product is -j greater than the 
value advanced for its production; 27 shillings have been trans- 
formed into 30 shillings; a surplus-value of 3 shillings has been 
created. The trick has at last succeeded; money has been converted 
into capital. 

Every condition of the problem is satisfied, while the laws 
that regulate the exchange of commodities, have been in no way 
violated. Equivalent has been exchanged for equivalent. For 
the capitalist as buyer paid for each commodity, for the cotton, 
the spindle and the labour-power, its full value. He then did 
what is done by every purchaser of commodities; he consumed 
their use-value. The consumption of the labour-power, which 
was also the process of producing commodities, resulted in 20 
lbs. of yarn, having a value of 30 shillings. The capitalist, for- 
merly a buyer, now returns to market as a seller, of commodities. 
He sells his yarn at eighteenpence a pound, which is its exact 
value. Yet for all that he withdraws 3 shillings more from circu- 
lation than he originally threw into it. This metamorphosis, 
this conversion of money into capital, takes place both within 
the sphere of circulation and also outside it; within the circulation, 


because conditioned by the purchase of the labour-power in the 
market; outside the circulation, because what is done within 
it is only a stepping-stone to the production of surplus-value, 
a process which is entirely confined to the sphere of production. 
Thus "tout est pour le mieux dans le meilleur des mondes possi- 

By turning his money into commodities that serve as the 
material elements of a new product, and as factors in the labour- 
process, by incorporating living labour with their dead sub- 
stance, the capitalist at the same time converts value, i.e., past r 
materialised, and dead labour into capital, into value big with 
value, a live monster that is fruitful and multiplies. 

If we now compare the two processes of producing value and 
of creating surplus-value, we see that the latter is nothing but 
the continuation of the former beyond a definite point. If on 
the one hand the process be not carried beyond the point, where 
the value paid by the capitalist for the labour-power is replaced 
by an exact equivalent, it is simply a process of producing value; 
if, on the other hand, it be continued beyond that point, it be- 
comes a process of creating surplus-value. 

If we proceed further, and compare the process of producing 
value with the labour-process, pure and simple, we find that 
the latter consists of the useful labour, the work, that produces 
use-values. Here we contemplate the labour as producing a par- 
ticular article; we view it under its qualitative aspect alone, 
with regard to its end and aim. But viewed as a value-creating 
process, the same labour-process presents itself under its quanti- 
tative aspect alone. Here it is a question merely of the time occu- 
pied by the labourer in doing the work; of the period during which 
the labour-power is usefully expended. Here, the commodities 
that take part in the process, do not count any longer as necessary 
adjuncts of labour-power in the production of a definite, useful 
object. They count merely as depositories of so much absorbed 
or materialised labour; that labour, whether previously embodied 
in the means of production, or incorporated in them for the first 
time during the process by the action of labour-power, counts in 
either case only according to its duration; it amounts to so many 
hours or days as the case may be. 

Moreover, only so much of the time spent in the production 
of any article is counted, as, under the given social conditions, 
is necessary. The consequences of this are various. In the first 
place, it becomes necessary that the labour should be carried on 
under normal conditions. If a self-acting mule is the implement 


in general use for spinning, it would be absurd to supply the 
spinner with a distaff and spinning wheel. The cotton too must 
not be such rubbish as to cause extra waste in being worked, but 
must be of suitable quality. Otherwise the spinner would be found 
to spend more time in producing a pound of yarn than is socially 
necessary, in which case the excess of time would create neither 
value nor money. But whether the material factors of the process 
are of normal quality or not, depends not upon the labourer, but 
entirely upon the capitalist. Then again, the labour-power itself 
must be of average efficacy. In the trade in which it is being em- 
ployed, it must possess the average skill, handiness and quickness 
prevalent in that trade, and our capitalist took good care to buy 
labour-power of such normal goodness. This power must be ap- 
plied with the average amount of exertion and with the usual 
degree of intensity; and the capitalist is as careful to see that 
this is done, as that his workmen are not idle for a single moment. 
He has bought the use of the labour-power for a definite period, 
and he insists upon his rights. He has no intention of being 
robbed. Lastly, and for this purpose our friend has a penal code of 
his own, all wasteful consumption of raw material or instruments 
of labour is strictly forbidden, because what is so wasted, repre- 
sents labour superfluously expended, labour that does not count 
in the product or enter into its value. 1 

1 This is one of the circumstances that makes production by slave la- 
bour such a costly process. The labourer here is, to use a striking expression 
of the ancients, distinguishable only as instrumentum vocale, from an ani- 
mal as instrumentum semi-vocale, and from an implement as instrumentum 
mutum. But he himself takes care to let both beast and implement feel that 
he is none of them, but is a man. He convinces himself with immense satis- 
faction, that he is a different being, by treating the one unmercifully and 
damaging the other con amore. Hence the principle, universally applied 
in this method of production, only to employ the rudest and heaviest imple- 
ments and such as are difficult to damage owing to their sheer clumsiness. 
In the slave-states bordering on the Gulf of Mexico, down to the date of the 
civil war, ploughs constructed on old Chinese models, which turned up the 
soil like a hog or a mole, instead of making furrows, were alone to be found. 
Conf. J. E. Cairnes. "The Slave Power," London, 1862, p. 46 sqq. In his "Sea 
Board Slave States," Olmsted tells us: "I am here shown tools that no man 
in his senses, with us, would allow a labourer, for whom he was paying 
wages, to be encumbered with; and the excessive weight and clumsi- 
ness of which, I would judge, would make work at least ten per cent 
greater than with those ordinarily used with us And I am assured that, 
in the careless and clumsy way they must be used by the slaves, anything 
lighter or less rude could not be furnished them with good economy, and that 
such tools as we constantly give our labourers and find our profit in giving 
them, would not last out a day in a Virginia cornfield— much lighter and 


We now see, that the difference between labour, considered 
on the one hand as producing utilities, and on the other hand, 
as creating value, a difference which we discovered by our anal- 
ysis of a commodity, resolves itself into a distinction between two 
aspects of the process of production. 

The process of production, considered on the one hand as 
the unity of the labour-process and the process of creating value, 
is production of commodities; considered on the other hand as 
the unity of the labour-process and the process of producing sur- 
plus-value, it is the capitalist process of production, or capitalist 
production of commodities. 

We stated, on a previous page, that in the creation of surplus- 
value it does not in the least matter, whether the labour ap- 
propriated by the capitalist be simple unskilled labour of aver- 
age quality or more complicated skilled labour. All labour 
of a higher or more complicated character than average labour 
is expenditure of labour-power of a more costly kind, labour- 
power whose production has cost more lime and labour, and 
which therefore has a higher value, than unskilled or simple 
labour-power. This power being of higher value, its consump- 
tion is labour of a higher class, labour that creates in equal times 
proportionally higher values than unskilled labour does. What- 
ever difference in skill there may be between the labour of a 
spinner and that of a jeweller, the portion of his labour by which 
the jeweller merely replaces the value of his own labour-power, 
does not in any way differ in quality from the additional portion 
by which he creates surplus-value. In the making of jewellery, 
just as in spinning, the surplus-value results only from a quanti- 
tative excess of labour, from a lengthening-out of one and the same 
labour-process, in the one case, of the process of making jewels, 
in the other of the process of making yarn. * 

more free from stones though it be than ours. So, too, when I ask why mules 
are so universally substituted for horses on the farm, the first reason given, 
and confessedly the most conclusive one, is that horses cannot bear the treat- 
ment that they always must get from negroes; horses are always soon 
foundered or crippled by them, while mules will bear cudgelling, or lose a 
meal or two now and then, and not be materially injured, and they do not 
take cold or get sick, if neglected or overworked. But I do not need to go 
further than to the window of the room in which I am writing, to see at al- 
most any time, treatment of cattle that would ensure the immediate dis- 
charge of the driver by almost any farmer owning them in the North." 

1 The distinction between skilled and unskilled labour rests in part on 
pure illusion, or, to say the least, on distinctions that have long since ceased 
ot be real, and that survive only by virtue of a traditional convention; in 


But on the other hand, in every process of creating value, 
the reduction of skilled labour to average social labour, e.g., 
one day of skilled to six days of unskilled labour, is unavoid- 
able. * We therefore save ourselves a superfluous operation, and 
simplify our analysis, by the assumption, that the labour of the 
workman employed by the capitalist is unskilled average labour. 

part on the helpless condition of some groups of the working-class, a condi- 
tion that prevents them from exacting equally with the rest the value of 
their labour-power. Accidental circumstances here play so great a part, that 
these two forms of labour sometimes change places. Where, for instance, the 
physique of the working-class has deteriorated, and is, relatively speaking, 
exhausted, which is the case in all countries with a well developed capitalist 
production, the lower forms of labour, which demand great expenditure of 
muscle, are in general considered as skilled, compared with much more 
delicate forms of labour; the latter sink down to the level of unskilled labour. 
Take as an example the labour of a bricklayer, which in England occupies 
a much higher level than that of damask-weaver. Again, although the la- 
bour of a fustian cutter demands great bodily exertion, and is at the same 
time unhealthy, yet it counts only as unskilled labour. And then, we must 
not forget, that the so-called skilled labour does not occupy a large space 
in the field of national labour. Laing estimates that in England (and Wales) 
the livelihood of 11,300,000 people depends on unskilled labour. If from 
the total population of 18,000,000 living at the time when he wrote, we 
deduct 1,000,000 for the "genteel population," and 1,500,000 for paupers, 
vagrants, criminals, prostitutes, &c, and 4,650,000 who compose the mid- 
dle-class, there remain the above mentioned 11,000,000. But in his middle- 
class he includes people that live on the interest of small investments, offi- 
cials, men of letters, artists, schoolmasters and the like, and in order to swell 
the number he also includes in these 4,650,000 the better paid portion of the 
factory operatives! The bricklayers, too, figure amongst them. (S. Laing: 
"National Distress," &c, London, 1844.) "The great class who have nothing 
to give for food but ordinary labour, are the great bulk of the people." (James 
Mill, in art.: "Colony," Supplement to the Encyclop. Brit., 1831.) 

1 "Where reference is made to labour as a measure of value, it neces- 
sarily implies labour of one particular kind ... the proportion which the other 
kinds bear to it being easily ascertained." ("Outlines of Pol. Econ.," Lond. 
1832, pp. 22 and 23.) 



The various factors of the labour-process play different parts 
in forming the value of the product. 

The labourer adds fresh value to the subject of his labour 
by expending upon it a given amount of additional labour, no 
matter what the specific character and utility of that labour 
may be. On the other hand, the values of the means of production 
used up in the process are preserved, and present themselves 
afresh as constituent parts of the value of the product; the values 
of the cotton and the spindle, for instance, re-appear again in the 
value of the yarn. The value of the means of production is there- 
fore preserved, by being transferred to the product. This transfer 
takes place during the conversion of those means into a product, 
or in other words, during the labour-process. It is brought about 
by labour; but how? 

The labourer does not perform two operations at once, one 
in order to add value to the cotton, the other in order to pre- 
serve the value of the means of production, or, what amounts 
to the same thing, to transfer to the yarn, to the product, the 
value of the cotton on which he works, and part of the value of 
the spindle with which he works. But, by the very act of adding 
new value, he preserves their former values. Since, however, the 
addition of new value to the subject of his labour, and the pres- 
ervation of its former value, are two entirely distinct results, 
produced simultaneously by the labourer, during one operation, 
it is plain that this two-fold nature of the result can be explained 
only by the two-fold nature of his labour; at one and the same 
time, it must in one character create value, and in another charac- 
ter preserve or transfer value. 

Now, in what manner does every labourer add new labour 
and consequently new value? Evidently, only by labouring 


productively in a particular way; the spinner by spinning, the 
weaver by weaving, the smith by forging. But, while thus in- 
corporating labour generally, that is value, it is by the particular 
form alone of the labour, by the spinning, the weaving and the 
forging respectively, that the means of production, the cotton 
and spindle, the yarn and loom, and the iron and anvil become 
constituent elements of the product, of a new use-value. ! Each 
use-value disappears, but only to re-appear under a new form in 
a new use-value. Now, we saw, when we were considering the proc- 
ess of creating value, that, if a use-value be effectively consumed 
in the production of a new use-value, the quantity of labour ex- 
pended in the production of the consumed article, forms a portion 
of the quantity of labour necessary to produce the new use-value; 
this portion is therefore labour transferred from the means of pro- 
duction to the new product. Hence, the labourer preserves the values 
of the consumed means of production, or transfers them as portions 
of its value to the product, not by virtue of his additional labour, 
abstractedly considered, but by virtue of the particular useful 
character of that labour, by virtue of its special productive form. 
In so far then as labour is such specific productive activity, in 
so far as it is spinning, weaving, or forging, it raises, by mere con- 
tact, the means of production from the dead, makes them living 
factors of the labour-process, and combines with them to form the 
new products. 

If the special productive labour of the workman were not 
spinning, he could not convert the cotton into yarn, and there- 
fore could not transfer the values of the cotton and spindle to 
the yarn. Suppose the same workman were to change his oc- 
cupation to that of a joiner, he would still by a day's labour 
add value to the material he works upon. Consequently, we 
see, first, that the addition of new value takes place not by vir- 
tue of his labour being spinning in particular, or joineringin 
particular, but because it is labour in the abstract, a portion 
of the total labour of society; and we see next, that the value 
added is of a given definite amount, not because his labour has 
a special utility, but because it is exerted for a definite time. 
On the one hand, then, it is by virtue of its general character, as 
being expenditure of human labour-power in the abstract, that 
spinning adds new value to the values of the cotton and the spin- 
dle; and on the other hand, it is by virtue of its special character, 

1 "Labour gives a new creation for one extinguished." ("An Essay on 
the Polit. Econ. oi Nations," London, 1821, p. 13.) 


as being a concrete, useful process, that the same labour of spin- 
ning both transfers the values of the means of production to 
the product, and preserves them in the product. Hence at one and 
the same time there is produced a two-fold result. 

By the simple addition of a certain quantity of labour, new 
value is added, and by the quality of this added labour, the orig- 
inal values of the means of production are preserved in the prod- 
uct. This two-fold effect, resulting from the two-fold character of 
labour, may be traced in various phenomena. 

Let us assume, that some invention enables the spinner to 
spin as much cotton in 6 hours as he was able to spin before in 
36 hours. His labour is now six times as effective as it was, for 
the purposes of useful production. The product of 6 hours' work 
has increased six-fold, from 6 lbs. to 36 lbs. But now the 36 lbs. 
of cotton absorb only the same amount of labour as formerly did 
the 6 lbs. One-sixth as much new labour is absorbed by each pound 
of cotton, and consequently, the value added by the labour to 
each pound is only one-sixth of what it formerly was. On the other 
hand, in the product, in the 36 lbs. of yarn, the value transferred 
from the cotton is six times as great as before. By the 6 hours' 
spinning, the value of the raw material preserved and transferred 
to the product is six times as great as before, although the new 
value added by the labour of the spinner to each pound of the very 
same raw material is one-sixth what it was formerly. This shows 
that the two properties of labour, by virtue of which it is enabled in 
one case to preserve value, and in the other to create value, are 
essentially different. On the one hand, the longer the time neces- 
sary to spin a given weight of cotton into yarn, the greater is the 
new value added to the material; on the other hand, the greater 
the weight of the cotton spun in a given time, the greater is the 
value preserved, by being transferred from it to the product. 

Let us now assume, that the productiveness of the spinner's 
labour, instead of varying, remains constant, that he therefore 
requires the same time as he formerly did, to convert one pound 
of cotton into yarn, but that the exchange-value of the cotton 
varies, either by rising to six times its former value or falling to 
one-sixth of that value. In both these cases, the spinner puts the 
same quantity of labour into a pound of cotton, and therefore 
adds as much value, as he did before the change in the value: 
he also produces a given weight of yarn in the same time as he did 
before. Nevertheless, the value that he transfers from the cotton 
to the yarn is either one-sixth of what it was before the variation, 
or, as the case may be, six times as much as before, The same 


result occurs when the value of the instruments of labour rises 
or falls, while their useful efficacy in the process remains unal- 

Again, if the technical conditions of the spinning process re- 
main unchanged, and no change of value takes place in the means 
of production, the spinner continues to consume in equal work- 
ing-times equal quantities of raw material, and equal quanti- 
ties of machinery of unvarying value. The value that he preserves 
in the product is directly proportional to the new value that he 
adds to the product. In two weeks he incorporates twice as much 
labour, and therefore twice as much value, as in one week, and 
during the same time he consumes twice as much material, and 
wears out twice as much machinery, of double the value in 
each case; he therefore preserves, in the product of two weeks, 
twice as much value as in the product of one week. So long as 
the conditions of production remain the same, the more value the 
labourer adds by fresh labour, the more value he transfers and pre- 
serves; but he does so merely because this addition of new value 
takes place under conditions that have not varied and are inde- 
pendent of his own labour. Of course, it may be said in one sense, 
that the labourer preserves old value always in proportion to the 
quantity of new value that he adds. Whether the value of cotton 
rise from one shilling to two shillings, or fall to sixpence, the 
workman invariably preserves in the product of one hour only one 
half as much value as he preserves in two hours. In like manner, 
if the productiveness of his own labour varies by rising or falling, 
he will in one hour spin either more or less cotton, as the case may 
be, than he did before, and will consequently preserve in the 
product of one hour, more or less value of cotton; but, all the 
same, he will preserve by two hours' labour twice as much value 
as he will by one. 

Value exists only in articles of utility, in objects: we leave 
out of consideration its purely symbolical representation by 
tokens. (Man himself, viewed as the impersonation of labour- 
power, is a natural object, a thing, although a. living conscious 
thing, and labour is the manifestation of this power residing in 
him.) If therefore an article loses its utility, it also loses its 
value. The reason why means of production do not lose their 
value, at the same time that they lose their use-value, is this: 
they lose in the labour-process the original form of their use-^ 
value, only to assume in the product the form of a new use-value. 
But, however important it may be to value, that it should have 
some object of utility to embody itself in, yet it is a matter of 


complete indifference what particular object serves this purpose; 
this we saw when treating of the metamorphosis of commodities. 
Hence it follows that in the labour-process the means of pro- 
duction transfer their value to the product only so far as along 
with their use-value they lose also their exchange-value. They 
give up to the product that value alone which they themselves 
lose as means of production. But in this respect the material fac- 
tors of the labour-process do not all behave alike. 

The coal burnt under the boiler vanishes without leaving a 
trace; so, too, the tallow with which the axles of wheels are 
greased. Dye stuffs and other auxiliary substances also vanish 
but re-appear as properties of the product. Raw material forms 
the substance of the product, but only after it has changed its 
form. Hence raw material and auxiliary substances lose the char- 
acteristic form with which they are clothed on entering the labour- 
process. It is otherwise with the instruments of labour. Tools, 
machines, workshops, and vessels, are of use in the labour-proc- 
ess, only so long as they retain their original shape, and are ready 
each morning to renew the process with their shape unchanged. 
And just as during their lifetime, that is to say, during the con- 
tinued labour-process in which they serve, they retain their shape 
independent of the product, so, too, they do after their death. 
The corpses of machines, tools, workshops, &c, are always sepa- 
rate and distinct from the product they helped to turn out. If we 
now consider the case of any instrument of labour during the whole 
period of its service, from the day of its entry into the workshop, 
till the day of its banishment into the lumber room, we find that 
during this period its use-value has been completely consumed, 
and therefore its exchange-value completely transferred to the 
product. For instance, if a spinning machine lasts for 10 years, 
it is plain that during that working period its total value is 
gradually transferred to the product of the 10 years. The life- 
time of an instrument of labour, therefore, is spent in the repeti- 
tion of a greater or less number of similar operations. Its life may 
be compared with that of a human being. Every day brings a man 
24 hours nearer to his grave: but how many days he has still to 
travel on that road, no man can tell accurately by merely looking 
at him. This difficulty, however, does not prevent life insurance 
offices from drawing, by means of the theory of averages, very ac- 
curate, and at the same time very profitable conclusions. So it 
is with the instruments of labour. It is known by experience 
how long on the average a machine of a particular kind will last. 
Suppose its use-value in the labour-process to last only six days, 


Then, on the average, it loses each day one-sixth of its use- value, 
and therefore parts with one-sixth of its value to the daily product. 
The wear and tear of all instruments, their daily loss of use-value, 
and the corresponding quantity of value they part with to the 
product, are accordingly calculated upon this basis. 

It is thus strikingly clear, that means of production never 
transfer more value to the product than they themselves lose 
during the labour-process by the destruction of their own use- 
value. If such an instrument has no value to lose, if, in other 
words, it is not the product of human labour, it transfers no 
value to the product. It helps to create use-value without con- 
tributing to the formation of exchange-value. In this class are 
included all means of production supplied by Nature without 
human assistance, such as land, wind, water, metals in situ, and 
timber in virgin forests. 

Yet another interesting phenomenon here presents itself. 
Suppose a machine to be worth £1,000, and to wear out in 1,000 
days. Then one thousandth part of the value of the machine is 
daily transferred to the day's product. At the same time, though 
with diminishing vitality, the machine as a whole continues to 
take part in the labour-process. Thus it appears, that one factor 
of the labour-process, a means of production, continually enters 
as a whole into that process, while it enters into the process of the 
formation of value by fractions only. The difference between the 
two processes is here reflected in their material factors, by the 
same instrument of production taking part as a whole in the labour- 
process, while at the same time as an element in the formation 
of value, it enters only by fractions. l 

1 The subject of repairs of the implements of labour does not concern 
us here. A machine that is undergoing repair, no longer plays the part of an 
instrument, but that of a subject of labour. Work is no longer done with it, 
but upon it. It is quite permissible tor our purpose to assume, that the labour 
expended on the repairs of instruments is included in the labour necessary 
for their original production. But in the text we deal with that wear and tear, 
which no doctor can cure, and which little by little brings about death, with 
"that kind of wear which cannot be repaired from time to time, and which, 
in the case of a knife, would ultimately reduce it to a state in which the cut- 
ler would say of it, it is not worth a new blade." We have shewn in the text, 
that a machine takes part in every labour-process as an integral machine, 
but that into the simultaneous process of creating value it enters only bit by 
bit. How great then is the confusion of ideas exhibited in the following ex- 
tract! "Mr. Ricardo says a portion of the labour of the engineer in making 
{stocking] machines" is contained for example in the value of a pair of stock- 
ings. "Yet the total labour, that produced each single pair of stockings ... 
includes the whole labour of the engineer, not a portion; for one machine 


On the other hand, a means of production may take part as a 
whole in the formation of value, while into the labour-process 
it enters only bit by bit. Suppose that in spinning cotton, the 
waste for every 115 lbs. used amounts to 15 lbs., which is con- 
verted, not into yarn, but into "devil's dust." Now, although 
this 15 lbs. of cotton never becomes a constituent element of 
the yarn, yet assuming this amount of waste to be normal and 
inevitable under average conditions of spinning, its value is 
just as surely transferred to the value of the yarn, as is the value 
of the 100 lbs. that form the substance of the yarn. The use- 
value of 15 lbs. of cotton must vanish into dust, before 100 lbs. 
of yarn can be made. The destruction of this cotton is therefore 
a necessary condition in the production of the yarn. And because 
it is a necessary condition, and for no other reason, the value of 
that cotton is transferred to the product. The same holds good 
for every kind of refuse resulting from a labour-process, so far at 
least as such refuse cannot be further employed as a means in 
the production of new and independent use-values. Such an employ- 
ment of refuse may be seen in the large machine works at Manches- 
ter, where mountains of iron turnings are carted away to the found- 
ry in the evening, in order the next morning to re-appear in the 
workshops as solid masses of iron. 

We have seen that the means of production transfer value to 
the new product, so far only as during the labour-process they 
lose value in the shape of their old use-value. The maximum 
loss of value that they can suffer in the process, is plainly limit- 
ed by the amount of the original value with which they came 
into the process, or in other words, by the labour-time necessary 
for their production. Therefore, the means of production can 
never add more value to the product than they themselves possess 
independently of the process in which they assist. However use- 
ful a given kind of raw material, or a machine, or other means of 
production may be, though it may cost £150, or, say, 500 days' 
labour, yet it cannot, under any circumstances, add to the value 
of the product more than £150. Its value is determined not by the 

makes many pairs, and none of those pairs could have been done without any 
part of the machine." ("Obs. on Certain Verbal Disputes in Pol. Econ., Partic- 
ularly Relating to Value," p. 54.) The author, an uncommonly self-satis- 
fied wiseacre, is right in his confusion and therefore in his contention, to 
this extent only, that neither Ricardo nor any other economist, before or 
since him, has accurately distinguished the two aspects of labour, and still 
less, therefore, the part played by it under each of these aspects in the for- 
mation of value. 


labour-process into which it enters as a means of production, but 
by that out of which it has issued as a product. In the labour- 
process it only serves as a mere use-value, a thing with useful 
properties, and could not, therefore, transfer any value to the 
product, unless it possessed such value previously. 1 

While productive labour is changing the means of produc- 
tion into constituent elements of a new product, their value un- 
dergoes a metempsychosis. It deserts the consumed body, to 
occupy the newly created one. But this transmigration takes 
place, as it were, behind the back of the labourer. He is unable 
to add new labour, to create new value, without at the same time 
preserving old values, and this, because the labour he adds must 
be of a specific useful kind; and he cannot do work of a useful 
kind, without employing products as the means of production of 
a new product, and thereby transferring their value to the new 
product. The property therefore which labour-power in action, 
living labour, possesses of preserving value, at the same time that 
it adds it, is a gift of Nature which costs the labourer nothing, 
but which is very advantageous to the capitalist inasmuch as it 
preserves the existing value of his capital. 2 So long as trade is 

1 From this we may judge of the absurdity of J. B. Say, who pretends 
to account for surplus-value (Interest, Profit, Rent), by the "services produc- 
tifs" which the means of production, soil, instruments, and raw material, 
render in the labour-process by means of their use-values. Mr. Wm. Roscher 
who seldom loses an occasion of registering, in black and white, ingenious 
apologetic fancies, records the following specimen: — "J. B. Say (Traite, 
t. 1. ch. 4) very truly remarks: the value produced by an oil mill, after de- 
duction of all costs, is something new, something quite different from the 
labour by which the oil mill itself was erected." (1. c, p. 82, note.) Very 
true, Mr. Professor! the oil produced by the oil mill is indeed something very 
different from the labour expended in constructing the mill! By value, Mr. 
Roscher understands such stuff as "oil," because oil has value, notwithstand- 
ing that "Nature" produces petroleum, though relatively "in small quanti- 
ties," a fact to which he seems to refer in his further observation: "It (Nature) 
produces scarcely any exchange-value." Mr. Roscher's "Nature" and the ex- 
change-value it produces are rather like the foolish virgin who admitted in- 
deed that she had had a child, but "it was such a little one." This "savant 
serieux" in continuation remarks: "Ricardo's school is in the habit of in- 
cluding capital as accumulated labour under the head of labour. This is 
unskilful work, because, indeed, the owner of capital, after all, does some- 
thing more than the merely creating and preserving of the same: namely, 
the abstention from the enjoyment of it, for which he demands, e.g., inter- 
est." (1. c.) How very "skilful" is this "anatomico-physiological method" 
of Political Economy, which, "indeed," converts a mere desire "after all" 
into a source of value. 

2 "Of all the instruments of the farmers' trade, the labour of man ... 
is that on which he is most to rely for the repayment of his capital. The other 


good, the capitalist is too much absorbed in money-grubbing to 
take notice of this gratuitous gift of labour. A violent interrup- 
tion of the labour-process by a crisis, makes him sensitively aware 
of it. 1 

As regards the means of production, what is really consumed 
is their use-value, and the consumption of this use-value by labour 
results in the product. There is no consumption of their value, 2 
and it would therefore be inaccurate to say that it is reproduced. 
It is rather preserved; not by reason of any operation it under^ 
goes itself in the process; but because the article in which it 
originally exists, vanishes, it is true, but vanishes into some 
other article. Hence, in the value of the product, there is a re- 
appearance of the value of the means of production, but there 
is, strictly speaking, no reproduction of that value. That which 
is produced is a new use-value in which the old exchange-value 
re-appears. 3 

two ... the working stock of the cattle and the ... carts, ploughs, spades, and 
so forth, without a given portion of the first, are nothing at all." (Edmund 
Burke: "Thoughts and Details on Scarcity, originally presented to the Right 
Hon. W. Pitt, in the month of November 1795," Edit. London, 1800, p. 10.) 

1 In The Times of 26th November, 1862, a manufacturer, whose mill 
employed 800 hands, and consumed, on the average, 150 bales of East Indian, 
or 130 bales of American cotton, complains, in doleful manner, of the stand- 
ing expenses of his factory when not working. He estimates them at £6,000 
a year. Among them are a number of items that do not concern us here, such 
as rent, rates, and taxes, insurance, salaries of the manager, book-keeper, 
engineer, and others. Then he reckons £150 for coal used to heat the mill 
occasionally, and run the engine now and then. Besides this, he includes 
the wages of the people employed at odd times to keep the machinery in 
working order. Lastly, he puts down £1,200 for depreciation of machinery, 
because "the weather and the natural principle of decay do not suspend their 
operations because the steam-engine ceases to revolve." He says, emphati- 
cally, he does not estimate his depreciation at more than the small sum of 
£1,200, because his machinery is already nearly worn out. 

2 "Productive consumption ... where the consumption of a commodity 
is a part of the process of production. ... In these instances there is no con- 
sumption of value." (S. P. Newman, I. c, p. 296.) 

3 In an American compendium that has gone through, perhaps, 20 edi- 
tions, this passage occurs: "It matters not in what form capital re-ap- 
pears;" then after a lengthy enumeration of all the possible ingredients of 
production whose value re-appears in the product, the passage concludes thus: 
"The various kinds of food, clothing, and shelter, necessary for the existence 
and comfort of the human being, are also changed. They are consumed from 
time to time, and their value re-appears in that new vigour imparted to 
his body and mind, forming fresh capital, to be employed again in the work 
of production." (F. Way land, 1. c, pp. 31, 32.) Without noticing any other 
oddities, it suffices to observe, that what re-appears in the fresh vigour, is 
not the bread's price, but its blood-forming substances. What, on the other 


It is otherwise with the subjective factor of the labour-proc- 
ess, with labour-power in action. While the labourer, by virtue 
of his labour being of a specialised kind that has a special object, 
preserves and transfers to the product the value of the means of 
production, he at the same time, by the mere act of working, 
creates each instant an additional or new value. Suppose the proc- 
ess of production to be stopped just when the workman has pro- 
duced an equivalent for the value of his own labour-power, when, 
for example, by six hours' labour, he has added a value of three 
shillings. This value is the surplus, of the total value of the prod- 
uct, over the portion of its value that is due to the means of pro- 
duction. It is the only original bit of value formed during this 
process, the only portion of the value of the product created by 
this process. Of course, we do not forget that this new value only 
replaces the money advanced by the capitalist in the purchase 
of the labour-power, and spent by the labourer on the necessaries 
of life. With regard to the money spent, the new value is merely 
a reproduction; but, nevertheless, it is an actual, and not, as in 
the case of the value of the means of production, only an apparent, 
reproduction. The substitution of one value for another, is here 
effected by the creation of new value. 

We know, however, from what has gone before, that the 
labour-process may continue beyond the time necessary to re- 
produce and incorporate in the product a mere equivalent for 
the value of the labour-power. Instead of the six hours that are 
sufficient for the latter purpose, the process may continue for 
twelve hours. The action of labour-power, therefore, not only 
reproduces its own value, but produces value over and above it. 
This surplus-value is the difference between the value of the prod- 
uct and the value of the elements consumed in the formation of 
that product, in other words, of the means of production and the 

By our explanation of the different parts played by the vari- 
ous factors of the labour-process in the formation of the prod- 
uct's value, we have, in fact, disclosed the characters of the 
different functions allotted to the different elements of capital 

hand, re-appears in the value of that vigour, is not the means of subsistence, 
but their value. The same necessaries of life, at half the price, would form 
just as much muscle and bone, just as much vigour, but not vigour of the 
same value This confusion of "value" and "vigour" coupled with our author's 
Pharisaical indefiniteness, mark an attempt, futile for all that, to thrash 
out an explanation of surplus-value from a mere re-appearance of pre- 
existing values. 


in the process of expanding its own value. The surplus of the 
total value of the product, over the sum of the values of its con- 
stituent factors, is the surplus of the expanded capital over the 
capital originally advanced. The means of production on the 
one hand, labour-power on the other, are merely the different 
modes of existence which the value of the original capital assumed 
when from being money it was transformed into the various 
factors of the labour-process. That part of capital then, which is 
represented by the means of production, by the raw material, aux- 
iliary material and the instruments of labour, does not, in the 
process of production, undergo any quantitative alteration of 
value. I therefore call it the constant part of capital, or, more 
shortly, constant capital. 

On the other hand, that part of capital, represented by 
labour-power, does, in the process of production, undergo an 
alteration of value. It both reproduces the equivalent of its 
own value-, and also produces an excess, a surplus-value, which 
may itself vary, may be more or less according to circumstances. 
This part of capital is continually being transformed from 
a constant into a variable magnitude. I therefore call it the 
variable part of capital, or, shortly, variable capital. The 
same elements of capital which, from the point of view of 
the labour-process, present themselves respectively as the 
objective and subjective factors, as means of production and 
labour-power, present themselves, from the point of view 
of the process of creating surplus-value, as constant and variable 

The definition of constant capital given above by no means 
excludes the possibility of a change of value in its elements. 
Suppose the price of cotton to be one day sixpence a pound, 
and the next day, in consequence of a failure of the cotton crop, 
a shilling a pound. Each pound of the cotton bought at six- 
pence, and worked up after the rise in value, transfers to the 
product a value of one shilling; and the cotton already spun 
before the rise, and perhaps circulating in the market as yarn, 
likewise transfers to the product twice its original value. It is 
plain, however, that these changes of value are independent 
of the increment or surplus-value added to the value of the cot- 
ton by the spinning itself. If the old cotton had never been spun, 
it could, after the rise, be resold at a shilling a pound instead of 
at sixpence. Further, the fewer the processes the cotton has gone 
through, the more certain is this result. We therefore find that 
speculators make it a rule when such sudden changes in value 


occur, to speculate in that material on which the least possible 
quantity of labour has been spent: to speculate, therefore, in yarn 
rather than in cloth, in cotton itself, rather than in yarn. The 
change of value in the case we have been considering, originates, 
not in the process in which the cotton plays the part of a means 
of production, and in which it therefore functions as constant 
capital, but in the process in which the cotton itself ;s produced. 
The value of a commodity, it is true, is determined by the quan- 
tity of labour contained in it, but this quantity is itself limited 
by social conditions. If the time socially necessary for the pro- 
duction of any commodity alters— and a given weight of cotton 
represents, after a bad harvest, more labour than after a good 
one — all previously existing commodities of the same class are 
affected, because they are, as it were, only individuals of the 
species, * and their value at any given time is measured by the 
labour socially necessary, i.e., by the labour necessary for their 
production under the then existing social conditions. 

As the value of the raw material may change, so, too, may 
that of the instruments of labour, of the machinery, &c, em- 
ployed in the process; and consequently that portion of the 
value of the product transferred to it from them, may also change. 
If in consequence of a new invention, machinery of a particular 
kind can be produced by a diminished expenditure of labour, 
the old machinery becomes depreciated more or less, and conse- 
quently transfers so much less value to the product. But here again, 
the change in value originates outside the process in which the 
machine is acting as a means of production. Once engaged in this 
process, the machine cannot transfer more value than it pos- 
sesses apart from the process. 

Just as a change in the value of the means of production, 
even after they have commenced to take a part in the labour- 
process, does not alter their character as constant capital, so, too, 
a change in the proportion of constant to variable capital does 
not affect the respective functions of these two kinds of capital. 
The technical conditions of the labour-process may be revolution- 
ised to such an extent, that where formerly ten men using ten 
implements of small value worked up a relatively small quanti- 
ty of raw material, one man may now, with the aid of one expen- 
sive machine, work up one hundred times as much raw material. 

1 "Toutes les productions d'un meme genre ne /orment proprement 
qu'une masse, dont le prix se determine en general et sans egard aux circon- 
stances particulieres." (Le Trosne, 1. c, p. 893.) 


In the latter case we have an enormous increase in the constant 
capital, that is represented by the total value of the means of 
production used, and at the same time a great reduction in the 
variable capital, invested in labour-power. Such a revolution, 
however, alters only the quantitative relation between the con- 
stant and the variable capital, or the proportions in which the 
total capital is split up into its constant and variable constituents; 
it has not in the least degree affected the essential difference be- 
tween the two. 




The surplus-value generated in the process of production by G, 
the capital advanced, or in other words, the self-expansion of 
the value of the capital C, presents itself for our consideration, 
in the first place, as a surplus, as the amount by which the value 
of the product exceeds the value of its constituent elements. 

The capital G is made up of two components, one, the sum 
of money c laid out upon the means of production, and the oth- 
er, the sum of money v expended upon the labour-power; c rep- 
resents the portion that has become constant capital, and v the 
portion that has become variable capital. At first then, C=c-fv: 
for example, if £500 is the capital advanced, its components may 
be such that the £500 =£410 const. -+-£90 var. When the process 
of production is finished, we get a commodity whose value =(c+ 
v)-j-s, where s is the surplus-value; or taking our former figures, 
the value of this commodity may be (£410 const. + £90 var.)+ 
£90 surpl. The original capital has now changed from C to C', 
from £500 to £590. The difference is s or a surplus-value of £90. 
Since the value of the constituent elements of the product is equal 
to the value of the advanced capital, it is mere tautology to say, 
that the excess of the value of the product over the value of its 
constituent elements, is equal to the expansion of the capital ad- 
vanced or to the surplus-value produced. 

Nevertheless, we must examine this tautology a little more 
closely. The two things compared are, the value of the product 
and the value of its constituents consumed in the process of pro- 
duction. Now we have seen how that portion of v the constant cap- 
ital which consists of the instruments of labour, transfers to the 
production only fraction of its value, while the remainder of that 


value continues to reside in those instruments. Since this remain- 
der plays no part in the formation of value, we may at present 
leave it on one side. To introduce it into the calculation would 
make no difference. For instance, taking our former example, 
c=£410: suppose this sum to consist of £312 value of raw mate- 
rial, £44 value of auxiliary material, and £54 value of the machin- 
ery worn away in the process; and suppose that the total value 
of the machinery employed is £1,054. Out of this latter sum, then, 
we reckon as advanced for the purpose of turning out the product, 
the sum of £54 alone, which the machinery loses by wear and 
tear in the process; for this is all it parts with to the product. 
Now if we also reckon the remaining £1,000, which still con- 
tinues in the machinery, as transferred to the product, we ought 
also to reckon it as part of the value advanced, and thus make 
it appear on both sides of our calculation. 1 We should, in this 
way, get £1,500 on one side and £1,590 on the other. The differ- 
ence of these two sums, or the surplus-value, would still be £90. 
Throughout this Book therefore, by constant capital advanced 
for the production of value, we always mean, unless the context 
is repugnant thereto, the value of the means of production actually 
consumed in the process, and that value alone. 

This being so, let us return to the formula C = c+v, which 
we saw was transformed into C'=(c+v)+s, C becoming C\ We 
know that the value of the constant capital is transferred to, 
and merely re-appears in the product. The new value actually 
created in the process, the value produced, or value-product, is 
therefore not the same as the value of the product; it is not, as 
it would at first sight appear (c+v)+s or £410 const. + £90 var.-f- 
£90 surpl.; but v+s or £90 var.-f £90 surpl. not £590 but £180. 
If c=0, or in other words, if there were branches of industry in 
which the capitalist could dispense with all means of production 
made by previous labour, whether they be raw material, auxiliary 
material, or instruments of labour, employing only labour-power 
and. materials supplied by Nature, in that case, there would be 
no constant capital to transfer to the product. This component 
of the value of the product, i.e., the £410 in our example, would 
be eliminated, but the sum of £180, the amount of new value cre- 
ated, or the value produced, which contains £90 of surplus-value, 
would remain just as great as if c represented the highest value 

1 "If we reckon the value of the fixed capital employed as a part of 
the advances, we must reckon the remaining value of such capital at the end 
of the year as a part of the annual returns." (Malthus, "Princ. of Pol. Econ." 
2nd ed., Lond.. 1836, p. 269.) 


imaginable. We should have G=(0+v) = v or C the expanded 
capital =v+s and therefore C— G = s as before. On the other hand, 
if s=0, or in other words, if the labour-power, whose value is 
advanced in the form of variable capital, were to produce only 
its equivalent, we should have C=c+v or C the value of the 
product =(c+v)+0 or G— C. The capital advanced would, in 
this case, not have expanded its value. 

From what has gone before, we know that surplus- value is 
purely the result of a variation in the value of v, of that portion 
of the capital which is transformed into labour-power; con- 
sequently, v-fs=v+v' or v plus an increment of v. But the fact 
that it is v alone that varies, and the conditions of that varia- 
tion, are obscured by the circumstance that in consequence of 
the increase in the variable component of the capital, there is 
also an increase in the sum total of the advanced capital. It was 
originally £500 and becomes £590. Therefore in order that our in- 
vestigation may lead to accurate results, we must make abstrac- 
tion from that portion of the value of the product, in which con- 
stant capital alone appears, and consequently must equate the 
constant capital to zero or make c=0. This is merely an appli- 
cation of a mathematical rule, employed whenever we operate 
with constant and variable magnitudes, related to each other by 
the symbols of addition and subtraction only. 

A further difficulty is caused by the original form of the 
variable capital. In our example, C =£410 const. +£90 var.-f £90 
surpl.; but £90 is a given and therefore a constant quantity; 
hence it appears absurd to treat it as variable. But in fact, the 
term £90 var. is here merely a symbol to show that this value un- 
dergoes a process. The portion of the capital invested in the pur- 
chase of labour-power is a definite quantity of materialised labour, 
a constant value like the value of the labour-power purchased. 
But in the process of production the place of the £90 is taken by 
the labour-power in action, dead labour is replaced by living la- 
bour, something stagnant by something flowing, a constant by a 
variable. The result is the reproduction of v plus an increment 
of v. From the point of view then of capitalist production, the 
whole process appears as the spontaneous variation of the origi- 
nally constant value, which is transformed into labour-power. 
Both the process and its result, appear to be owing to this value. 
If, therefore, such expressions as "£90 variable capital," or "so 
much self-expanding value," appear contradictory, this is only be- 
cause they bring to the surface a contradiction immanent in 
capitalist production. 


At first sight it appears a strange proceeding, to equate the 
constant capital to zero. Yet it is what we do every day. If, for 
example, we wish to calculate the amount of England's profits 
from the cotton industry, we first of all deduct the sums paid 
for cotton to the United States, India, Egypt and other countries; 
in other words, the value of the capital that merely re-appears 
in the value of the product, is put =0. 

Of course the ratio of surplus-value not only to that portion 
of the capital from which it immediately springs, and whose 
change of value it represents, but also to the sum total of the 
capital advanced is economically of very great importance. 
We shall, therefore, in the third book, treat of this ratio ex- 
haustively. In order to enable one portion of a capital to expand 
its value by being converted into labour-power, it is necessary 
that another portion be converted into means of production. 
In order that variable capital may perform its function, constant 
capital must be advanced in proper proportion, a proportion 
given by the special technical conditions of each labour-process. 
The circumstance, however, that retorts and other vessels, are nec- 
essary to a chemical process, does not compel the chemist to no- 
tice them in the result of lys analysis. If we look at the means of 
production, in their relation to the creation of value, and to the 
variation in the quantity of value, apart from anything else, they 
appear simply as the material in which labour-power, the value- 
creator, incorporates itself. Neither the nature, nor the value of 
this material is of any importance. The only requisite is that there 
be a sufficient supply to absorb the labour expended in the process 
of production. That supply once given, the material may rise or 
fall in value, or even be, as land and the sea, without any value 
in itself; but this will have no influence on the creation of value 
or on the variation in the quantity of value. * 

In the first place then we equate the constant capital to zero. 
The capital advanced is consequently reduced from c-fv to v, 
and instead of the value of the product (c+v)+s we have now 
the value produced (v-j-s). Given the new value produced = 
£180, which sum consequently represents the whole labour ex- 
pended during the process, then subtracting from it £90 the val- 
ue of the variable capital, we have remaining £90, the amount 
of the surplus-value. This sum of £90 or s expresses the absolute 

1 What Lucretius says is self-evident; "nil posse creari de nihilo," 
out of nothing, nothing can be created. Creation of value is transformation 
of labour-power into labour. Labour-power itself is energy transferred to 
a human organism by means of nourishing matter. 


quantity of surplus-value produced. The relative quantity pro- 
duced, or the increase per cent of the variable capital, is deter- 
mined, it is plain, by the ratio of the surplus-value to the variable 

s 90 

capital, or is expressed by — . In our example this ratio is ^, which 

gives an increase of 100%. This relative increase in the value of 
the variable' capital, or the relative magnitude of the surplus- 
value, I call, "The rate of surplus-value." 1 

We have seen that the labourer, during one portion of the 
labour-process, produces only the value of his labour-power, 
that is, the value of his means of subsistence. Now since his 
work forms part of a system, based on the social division of 
labour, he does not directly produce the actual necessaries which 
he himself consumes; he produces instead a particular commod- 
ity, yarn for example, whose value is equal to the value of those 
necessaries or of the money with which they can be bought. The 
portion of his day's labour devoted to this purpose, will be 
greater or less, in proportion to the value of the necessaries that he 
daily requires on an average, or, what amounts to the same thing, 
in proportion to the labour-time required on an average to produce 
them. If the value of those necessaries represent on an average 
the expenditure of six hours' labour," the workman must on an 
average work for six hours to produce that value. If instead of 
working for the capitalist, he worked independently on his own 
account, he would, other things being equal, still be obliged to 
labour for the same number of hours, in order to produce the val- 
ue of his labour-power, and thereby to gain the means of sub- 
sistence necessary for his conservation or continued reproduction. 
But as we have seen, during that portion of his day's labour in 
which he produces the value of his labour-power, say three shil- 
lings, he produces only an equivalent for the value of his labour- 
power already advanced 2 by the capitalist; the new value created 
only replaces the variable capital advanced. It is owing to this 
fact, that the production of the new value of three shillings 
takes the semblance of a mere reproduction. That portion of the 
working-day, then, during which this reproduction takes place, 

1 In the same way that the English use the terms "rate of profit," "rate 
of interest." We shall see, in Book III., that the rate of profit is no mystery, 
so soon as we know the laws of surplus-value. If we reverse the process, we 
cannot comprehend either the one or the other. 

2 [Note added in the 3rd German edition.— The author resorts here 
to the economic language in current use. It will be remembered that on p. 
182 (present edition, p. 174) it was shown that in reality the labourer "ad- 
vances" to the capitalist and not the capitalist to the labourer.—/ 1 . E.) 


I call "necessary" labour-time, and the labour expended during 
that time I call "necessary" labour. x Necessary, as regards the la- 
bourer, because independent of the particular social form of his 
labour; necessary, as regards capital, and the world of capital- 
ists, because on the continued existence of the labourer depends 
their existence also. 

During the second period of the labour-process, that in 
which his labour is no longer necessary labour, the workman, 
it is true, labours, expends labour-power; but his labour, being 
no longer necessary labour, he creates no value for himself. He 
creates surplus-value which, for the capitalist, has all the charms 
of a creation out of nothing. This portion of the working-day, 
I name surplus labour-time, and to the labour expended during 
that time, I give the name of surplus-labour. It is every bit as 
important, for a correct understanding of surplus-value, to conceive 
it as a mere congelation of surplus labour-time, as nothing but 
materialised surplus-labour, as it is, for a proper comprehension 
of value, to conceive it as a mere congelation of so many hours 
of labour, as nothing but materialised labour. The essential 
difference between the various economic forms of society, between, 
for instance, a society based on slave-labour, and one based on 
wage-labour, lies only in the mode in which this surplus-labour is 
in each case extracted from the actual producer, the labourer. 2 

Since, on the one hand, the values of the variable capital 
and of the labour-power purchased by that capital are equal, 
and the value of this labour-power determines the necessary 
portion of the working-day; and since, on the other hand, the 

1 In this work, we have, up to now, employed the term "necessary 
labour-time," to designate the time necessary under given social conditions 
for the production of any commodity. Henceforward we use it to designate 
also the time necessary for the production of the particular commodity la- 
bour-power. The use of one and the same technical term in different senses 
is inconvenient, but in no science can it be altogether avoided. Compare, 
for instance, the higher with the lower branches of mathematics. 

2 Herr Wilhelm Thucydides Roscher has found a mare's nest. He has 
made the important discovery that if, on the one hand, the formation of 
surplus-value, or surplus-produce, and the consequent accumulation of cap- 
ital, is now-a-days due to the thrift of the capitalist, on the other hand, in 
the lowest stages of civilisation it is the strong who compel the weak to econ- 
omise. (1. c, p. 78.) To economise what? Labour? Or superfluous wealth 
that does not exist? What is it that makes such men as Roscher account 
for the origin of surplus-value, by a mere rechauffe of the more or less plau- 
sible excuses by the capitalist, for his appropriation of surplus-value? It 
is, besides their real ignorance, their apologetic dread of a scientific analysis 
of value and surplus-value, and of obtaining a result, possibly not altogether 
palatable to the powers that be. 


surplus-value is determined by the surplus portion of the work- 
ing-day, it follows that surplus-value bears the same ratio to 
variable capital, that surplus-labour does to necessary labour, or 

in other words, the rate of surplus-value -= surplus " la 1 b ? ur . 
u . w f . s , surplus-labour v u necessary labour 

Both ratios, - and Dece * sary lab(mr , express the same thing in 

different ways; in the one case by reference to materialised, incor- 
porated labour, in the other by reference to living, fluent labour. 

The rate of surplus-value is therefore an exact expression 
for the degree of exploitation of labour-power by capital, or of 
the labourer by the capitalist. 1 

We assumed in our example, that the value of the product 
=£410 const. +£90 var. +£90 surpl., and that the capital ad- 
vanced =£500. Since the surplus-value = £90, and the advanced 
capital = £500, we should, according to the usual way of reckoning, 
get as the rate of surplus-value (generally confounded with rate 
of profits) 18%, a rate so low as possibly to cause a pleasant sur- 
prise to Mr. Carey and other harmonisers. But in truth, the rate 

of surplus-value is not equal to =r or —r— but to — : thus it is not 

90 90 G c + v v 

£qq but 5q or 100% , which is more than five times the apparent de- 
gree of exploitation. Although, in the case we have supposed, we are 
ignorant of the actual length of the working-day, and of the dura- 
tion in days or weeks of the labour-process, as also of the number of 

labourers employed, yet the rate of surplus-value— accurately dis- 

! i n .. . . . surplus-labour 
closes to us, by means of its equivalent expression, - r-v — 

J ^ r ' necessary labour 

the relation between the two parts of the working-day. This 
relation is here one of equality, the rate being 100%. Hence, 
it is plain, the labourer, in our example, works one half of the 
day for himself, the other half for the capitalist. 

The method of calculating the rate of surplus-value is there- 
fore, shortly, as follows. We take the total value of the product 
and put the constant capital which merely re-appears in it, 
equal to zero. What remains, is the only value that has, in the 
process of producing the commodity, been actually created. If 

1 Although the rate of surplus-value is an exact expression for the de- 
gree of exploitation of labour-power, it is, in no sense, an expression for 
the absolute amount of exploitation. For example, if the necessary la- 
bour==5 hours and the surplus-labour=5 hours, the degree of exploitation 
is 100%. The amount of exploitation is here measured by 5 hours. If, on the 
other hand, the necessary labour=6 hours and the surplus-labour=6 hours, 
the degree of exploitation remains, as before, 100% , while the actual amount 
of exploitation has increased 20%, namely from five hours to six. 


the amount of surplus-value be given, we have only to deduct 
it from this remainder, to find the variable capital. And vice 
versa, if the latter be given, and we require to find the surplus- 
value. If both be given, we have only to perform the conclud- 
ing operation, viz., to calculate — , the ratio of the surplus-value 
to the variable capital. 

Though the method is so simple, yet it may not be amiss, by 
means of a few examples, to exercise the reader in the applica- 
tion of the novel principles underlying it. 

First we will take the case of a spinning mill containing 
10,000 mule spindles, spinning No. 32 yarn from American 
cotton, and producing 1 lb. of yarn weekly per spindle. We 
assume the waste to be 6%: under these circumstances 10,600 

lbs. of cotton are consumed weekly, of which 600 lbs. go to 

waste. The price of the cotton in April, 1871, was 7-r- d. per. lb.; the 

raw material therefore costs in round numbers £342. The 10,000 
spindles, including preparation-machinery, and motive power, 
cost, we will assume, £1 per spindle, amounting to a total 
of £10,000. The wear and tear we put at 10%, or £1,000 yeary= 
£20 weekly. The rent of the building we suppose to be £300 a year, 
or £6 a week. Goal consumed (for 100 horse-power indicated, at 
4 lbs. of coal per horse-power per hour during 60 hours, and in- 
clusive of that consumed in heating the mill), 11 tons a week at 8s. 


6d. a ton, amounts to about £4y a week: gas, £1 a week, oil, &c, 
£4^- a week. Total cost of the above auxiliary materials, £10 week- 
ly. Therefore the constant portion of the value of the week's product 
is £378. Wages amount to £52 a week. The price of the yarn is 

12-^- d. per lb. which gives for the value of 10,000 lbs. the sum of 

£510.The surplus-value is therefore in this case £510— £430 =£80. 
We put the constant part of the value of the product =0, as it plays 
no part in the creation of value. There remains £132 as the 
weekly value created, which =£52 var.+£80surpl.The rate of sur- 
plus-value is therefore ^=153^%. In a working-day of 10 hours 
with average labour the result is: necessary labour =3^ hours, 
and surplus-labour =6^. x 

1 The above data, which may be relied upon, were given me by a Man- 
chester spinner. In England the horse-power of an engine was formerly cal- 
culated from the diameter of its cylinder, now the actual horse-power shown 
hv the indicator is taken. 


One more example. Jacob gives the following calculation for 
the year 1815. Owing to the previous adjustment of several items 
it is very imperfect; nevertheless for our purpose it is sufficient. 
In it he assumes the price of wheat to be 8s. a quarter, and the 
average yield per acre to be 22 bushels. 


Seed, £1 90 

Manure, 2 10 

Wages, 3 10 

Total, ... £7 90 

Tithes, Rates, and Taxes, £1 1 

Rent 18 

Farmer's Profit and In- 
terest 12 

Total, £ 3 11 

Assuming that the price of the product is the same as its 
value, we here find the surplus-value distributed under the va- 
rious heads of profit, interest, rent, &c. We have nothing to do 
with these in detail; we simply add them together, and the sum 
is a surplus-value of £3 lis. Od. The sum of £3 19 s. Od., paid 
for seed and manure, is constant capital, and we put it equal to 
zero. There is left the sum of £3 10s. Od., which is the variable 
capital advanced: and we see that a new value of £3 10s. Od.-r£3 

lis. Od. has been produced in its place. Therefore -7= go jq*' qa 

giving a rate of surplus-value of more than 100%. The labourer 
employs more than one half of his working-day in producing the 
surplus-value, which different persons, under different pretexts, 
share amongst themselves. * 





Let us now return to the example by which we were shown 
how the capitalist converts money into capital. 

The product of a working-day of 12 hours is 20 lbs. of yarn, 


having a value of 30s. No less than -^ ths of this value, or 24s., 

1 The calculations given in the text are intended merely as illustra- 
tions. We have in fact assumed that prices=values. We shall, however, see, 
in Book III., that even in the case of average prices the assumption cannot 
he made in this very simple manner. 


is due to mere re-appearance in it, of the value of the means of 
production (20 ibs. of cotton, value 20s., and spindle worn away, 

4s.): it is therefore constant capital. The remaining T^ths or 

6s. is the new value created during the spinning process: of 
this one half replaces the value of the day's labour-power, or the 
variable capital, the remaining half constitutes a surplus-value 
of 3s. The total value then of the 20 lbs. of yarn is made up as fol- 

30s. value of yarn=24s. const. -{-3s. var.-|-3s. surpl. 

Since the whole of this value is contained in the 20 lbs. of 
yarn produced, it follows that the various component parts of 
this value, can be represented as being contained respectively 
in corresponding parts of the product. 


If the value of 30s. is contained in 20 ibs. of yarn, then t^ ths 
of this value, or the 24s. that form its constant part, is COn- 
tained in i^ths of the product or in 16 lbs. of yarn. Of the lat- 

ter 13-^- lbs. represent the value of the raw material, the 20s. 

worth of cotton spun, and 2-~- lbs. represent the 4s. worth of spin- 
dle, &c, worn away in the process. 

Hence the whole of the cotton used up in spinning the 20 

lbs. of yarn, is represented by 13 -^ lbs. of yarn. This latter weight 

of yarn contains, it is true, by weight, no more than 13-^- lbs. of 

1 2 

cotton, worth 13^- shillings; but the 6-~- shillings additional value 

contained in it, are the equivalent for the cotton consumed in 

spinning the remaining 6-5- lbs. of yarn. The effect is the same as 

if these 6-^- lbs. of yarn contained no cotton at all, and the whole 

20 lbs. of cotton were concentrated in the 13-y lbs. of yarn. The 

latter weight, on the other hand, does not contain an atom either 
of the value of the auxiliary materials and implements, or of the 
value newly created in the process. 

In the same way, the 2-^ lbs. of yarn, in which the 4s., the re- 
mainder of the constant capital, is embodied, represents nothing 
but the value of the auxiliary materials and instruments of labour 
consumed in producing the 20 lbs, of yarn, 


We have, therefore, arrived at this result: although eight- 
tenths of the product, or 16 lbs. of yarn, is, in its character of 
an article of utility, just as much the fabric of the spinner's 
labour, as the remainder of the same product, yet when viewed 
in this connexion, it does not contain, and has not absorbed 
any labour expended during the process of spinning. It is just 
as if the cotton had converted itself into yarn, without help; 
as if the shape it had assumed was mere trickery and deceit: 
for so soon as our capitalist sells it for 24s., and with the money 
replaces his means of production, it becomes evident that this 
16 lbs. of yarn is nothing more than so much cotton and spindle- 
waste in disguise. 2 

On the other hand, the remaining r^ths of the product, or 4 

lbs. of yarn, represent nothing but the new value of 6s., created 
during the 12 hours' spinning process. All the value trans- 
ferred to those 4 lbs., from the raw material and instruments of 
labour consumed, was, so to say, intercepted in order to be incor- 
porated in the 16 lbs. first spun. In this case, it is as if the spinner 
had spun 4 lbs. of yarn out of air, or, as if he had spun them with 
the aid of cotton and spindles, that, being the spontaneous gift 
of Nature, transferred no value to the product. 

Of this 4 lbs. of yarn, in which the whole of the value newly 
created during the process, is condensed, one half represents the 
equivalent for the value of the labour consumed, or the 3s. variable 
capital, the other half represents the 3s. surplus-value. 

Since 12 working-hours of the spinner are embodied in 6s., 
it follows that in yarn of the value of 30s., there must be em- 
bodied 60 working-hours. And this quantity of labour-time 


does in fact exist in the 20 lbs. of yarn; for in i^ths or 16 lbs. 

there are materialised the 48 hours of labour expended, before 

the commencement of the spinning process, on the means of 

production; and in the remaining Tnths or 4 lbs. there are mate- 
rialised the 12 hours' work done during the process itself. 

On a former page we saw that the value of the yarn is equal 
to the sum of the new value created during the production of that 
yarn plus the value previously existing in the means of produc- 

It has now been shown how the various component parts of 
the value of the product, parts that differ functionally from each 
other, may be represented by corresponding proportional parts 
of the product itself. 


To split up in this manner the product into different parts, 
of which one represents only the labour previously spent on 
the means of production, or the constant capital, another, only 
the necessary labour spent during the process of production, or 
the variable capital, and another and last part, only the surplus- 
labour expended during the same process, or the surplus-value; 
to do this, is, as will be seen later on from its application to 
complicated and hitherto unsolved problems, no less important 
than it is simple. 

In the preceding investigation we have treated the total 
product as the final result, ready for use, of a working-day of 
12 hours. We can however follow this total product through 
all the stages of its production; and in this way we shall arrive 
at the same result as before, if we represent the partial products, 
given off at the different stages, as functionally different parts of 
the final or total product. 

The spinner produces in 12 hours 20 lbs. of yarn, or in 1 

2 2 

hour 1-x- lbs.; consequently he produces in 8 hours 13 -~- lbs., 

or a partial product equal in value to all the cotton that is spun 

in a whole day. In like manner the partial product of the next 

period of 1 hour and 36 minutes, is 2 -5- lbs. of yarn: this represents 

the value of the instruments of labour that are consumed in 12 
hours. In the following hour and 12 minutes, the spinner produces 
2 lbs. of yarn worth 3 shillings, a value equal to the whole value 
he creates in his 6 hours' necessary labour. Finally, in the last 
hour and 12 minutes he produces another 2 lbs. of yarn, whose 
value is equal to the surplus-value, created by his surplus-labour 
during half a day. This method of calculation serves the English 
manufacturer for every-day use; it shows, he will say, that in the 


first 8 hours, or -« of the working-day, he gets back the value of 

his cotton; and so on for the remaining hours. It is also a perfectly 
correct method: being in fact the first method given above with 
this difference, that instead of being applied to space, in which 
the different parts of the completed product lie side by side, it 
deals with time, in which those parts are successively produced. 
But it can also be accompanied by very barbarian notions, more 
especially in the heads of those who are as much interested, prac- 
tically, in the process of making value beget value, as they are 
in misunderstanding that process theoretically. Such people may 
get the notion into their heads, that our spinner, for example 


produces or replaces in the first 8 hours of his working-day the value 
of the cotton; in the following hour and 36 minutes the value of 
the instruments of labour worn away; in the next hour and 12 min- 
utes the value of the wages; and that he devotes to the production 
of surplus-value for the manufacturer, only that well known "last 
hour." In this way the poor spinner is made to perform the two-fold 
miracle not only of producing cotton, spindles, steam-engine, 
coal, oil, &c, at the same time that he spins with them, but 
also of turning one working-day into five; for, in the example 
we are considering, the production of the raw material and in- 
struments of labour demands four working-days of twelve hours 
each, and their conversion into yarn requires another such day. 
That the love of lucre induces an easy belief in such miracles, 
and that sycophant doctrinaires are never wanting to prove 
them, is vouched for by the following incident of historical ce- 


One fine morning, in the year 1836, Nassau W. Senior, who 
may be called the bel-esprit of English economists, well known, 
alike for his economic "science," and for his beautiful style, 
was summoned from Oxford to Manchester, to learn in the 
latter place, the Political Economy that he taught in the former. 
The manufacturers elected him as their champion, not only 
against the newly passed Factory Act, but against the still more 
menacing Ten-hours' agitation. With their usual practical acute- 
ness, they had found out that the learned Professor "wanted 
a good deal of finishing;" it was this discovery that caused them 
to write for him. On his side the Professor has embodied the lec- 
ture he received from the Manchester manufacturers, in a pamphlet, 
entitled: "Letters on the Factory Act, as it affects the cotton 
manufacture." London, 1837. Here we find, amongst others, the 
following edifying passage: "Under the present law, no mill in 
which persons under 18 years of age are employed, ... can be 

worked more than 11 y hours a day, that is, 12 hours for 5 days 

in the week, and nine on Saturday. 

"Now the following analysis (!) will show that in a mill so 
worked, the whole net profit is derived from the last hour. I will 
suppose a manufacturer to invest £100,000:— £80,000 in his 
mill and machinery, and £20,000 in raw material and wages. The 
annual return of that mill, supposing the capital to be turned once 
-a year, and gross profits to be 15 percent., ought to be goods worth 


£115,000.... Of this £115,000, each of the twenty-three half- 
hours of work produces 5-U5ths or one twenty-third. Of these 23- 
23rds (constituting the whole £115,000) twenty, that is to say 
£100,000 out of the £115,000, simply replace the capital;— one 
twenty-third (or £5,000 out of the £115,000) makes up for the de- 
terioration of the mill and machinery. The remaining 2-23rds, 
that is, the last two of the twenty-three half-hours of every day, 
produce the net profit of 10 per cent. If, therefore (prices remaining 
the same), the factory could be kept at work thirteen hours in- 
stead of eleven and a half, with an addition of about £2,600 to the 
circulating capital, the net profit would be more than doubled. 
On the other hand, if the hours of working were reduced by one 
hour per day (prices remaining the same), the net profit would be 
destroyed— if they were reduced by one hour and a half, even 
the gross profit would be destroyed." 1 

And the professor calls this an "analysis!" If, giving cre- 
dence to the out-cries of the manufacturers, he believed that 
the workmen spend the best part of the day in the production, 
i.e., the reproduction or replacement of the value of the build- 
ings, machinery, cotton, coal, &c, then his analysis was super- 
fluous. His answer would simply have been: — Gentlemen! 

1 Senior, 1. c, pp. 12, 13. We let pass such extraordinary notions as are 
of no importance for our purpose; for instance, the assertion, that manufac- 
turers reckon as part of their profit, gross or net, the amount required to 
make good wear and tear of machinery, or in other words, to replace a part 
of the capital. So, too, we pass over any question as to the accuracy of his 
figures. Leonard Horner has shown in "A Letter to Mr. Senior," &c, London, 
1837, that they are worth no more than the so-called "Analysis." Leonard 
Horner was one of the Factory Inquiry Commissioners in 1833, and Inspec- 
tor, or rather Censor of Factories till 1859. He rendered undying service to 
the English working-class. He carried on a life-long contest, not only with 
the embittered manufacturers, but also with the Cabinet, to whom the number 
of votes given by the masters in the Lower House, was a matter of far greater 
importance than the number of hours worked by the "hands" in the mills. 

Apart from errors in principle, Senior's statement is confused. What he 
really intended to say was this: The manufacturer employs the workman 
for 11 l l 2 hours or for 23 half-hours daily. As the working-day, so, too, the 
working year, may be conceived to consist of ll 1 / 2 hours or 23 half-hours, 
but each multiplied by the number of working-days in the year. On this sup- 
position, the 23 half-hours yield an annual product of £1 15,000; one half- 
hour yields 1/23X^115,000; 20 half-hours yield 20/23x^115,000=^100,000, 
i.e., they replace no more than the capital advanced. There remain 3 half- 
hours, which yield 3/23X^1 15,000=^15,000 or the gross profit. Of these 
3 half-hours, one yields 1/23X^H5,000=«£5,000; i.e., it makes up for the 
wear and tear of the machinery; the remaining 2 half-hours, i.e., the last 
hour, yield 2/23 X<£1 15,000=^10,000 or the net profit. In the text Senior 
converts the last 2/23 of the product into portions of the working-day itself. 



if you work your mills for 10 hours instead of ll-y, then, other 

things being equal, the daily consumption of cotton, machinery, 
&c, will decrease in proportion. You gain just as much as you 
lose. Your workpeople will in future spend one hour and a half 
less time in reproducing or replacing the capital that has been 
advanced.— If, on the other hand, he did not believe them with- 
out further inquiry, but, as being an expert in such matters, 
deemed an analysis necessary, then he ought, in a question that 
is concerned exclusively with the relations of net profit to the 
length of the working-day, before all things to have asked the 
manufacturers, to be careful not to lump together machinery, 
workshops, raw material, and labour, but to be good enough 
to place the constant capital, invested in buildings, machinery, 
raw material, &c, on one side of the account, and the capital ad- 
vanced in wages on the other side. If the professor then found, 
that in accordance with the calculation of the manufacturers, 
the workman reproduced or replaced his wages in 2 half-hours, 
in that case, he should have continued his analysis thus: 

According to your figures, the workman in the last hour but 
one produces his wages, and in the last hour your surplus-value 
or net profit. Now, since in equal periods he produces equal val- 
ues, the produce of the last hour but one, must have the same 
value as that of the last hour. Further, it is only while he labours 
that he produces any value at all, and the amount of his labour 

is measured by his labour-time. This you say, amounts to lly 
hours a day. He employs one portion of these lly hours, in produc- 
ing or replacing his wages, and the remaining portion in produc- 
ing your net profit. Beyond this he does absolutely nothing. 
But since, on your assumption, his wages, and the surplus-value 
he yields, are of equal value, it is clear that he produces his wages 

3 3 

in 5-7- hours, and your net profit in the other 5^- hours. Again, 

since the value of the yarn produced in 2 hours, is equal to the sum 
of the values of his wages and of your net profit, the measure of the 

1 3 

value of this yarn must be 11-^- working-hours, of which 5-t- hours 

measure the value of the yarn produced in the last hour but one, 

and 5-t- , the value of the yarn produced in the last hour. We now 

come to a ticklish point; therefore, attention! The last working- 
hour but one is, like the first, an ordinary working-hour, neither 


more nor less. How then can the spinner produce in one hour> 

in the shape of yarn, a value that embodies 5^- hours' labour? 

The truth is that he performs no such miracle. The use-value pro- 
duced by him in one hour, is a definite quantity of yarn. The val- 

3 3 

ue of this yarn is measured by 5^- working-hours, of which 4^- were, 

without any assistance from him, previously embodied in the means 
of production, in the cotton, the machinery, and so on; the remain- 
ing one hour alone is added by him. Therefore since his wages 

are produced in 5^- hours, and the yarn produced in one hour also 

contains 5y hours' work, there is no witchcraft in the result, that 

the value created by his 5-r- hours' spinning, is equal to the value of 

the product spun in one hour. You are altogether on the wrong 
track, if you think that he loses a single moment of his working- 
day, in reproducing or replacing the values of the cotton, the 
machinery, and so on. On the contrary, it is because his labour 
converts the cotton and spindles into yarn, because he spins, that 
the values of the cotton and spindles go over to the yarn of their 
own accord. This result is owing to the quality of his labour, 
not to its quantity. It is true, he will in one hour transfer to the 
yarn more value, in the shape of cotton, than he will in half an 
hour; but that is only because in one hour he spins up more cot- 
ton than in half an hour. You see then, your assertion, that the 
workman produces, in the last hour but one, the value of his 
wages, and in the last hour your net profit, amounts to no more 
than this, that in the yarn produced by him in 2 working-hours, 
whether they are the 2 first or the 2 last hours of the working-day, 

in that yarn, there are incorporated 11 y working-hours, or just a 

whole day's work, i.e., two hours of his own work and 9y hours 

- 3 
of other people's. And my assertion that, in the first 5^- hours, 

he produces his wages, and in the last 5^- hours your net profit, 

amounts only to this, that you pay him for the former, but not 
for the latter. In speaking of payment of labour, instead of pay- 
ment of labour-power, I only talk your own slang. Now, gen- 
tlemen, if you compare the working-time you pay for, with that 
which you do not pay for, you will find that they are to one an- 
other, as half a day is to half a day; this gives a rate of 100%, and 


a very pretty percentage it is. Further, there is not the least doubt, 

that if you make your "hands" toil for 13 hours, instead of lly, 

and, as may be expected from you, treat the work done in that 
extra one hour and a half, as pure surplus-labour, then the latter 

3 1 

will be increased from 5— hours' labour to 7-y- hours' labour, and 

4 4 

the rate of surplus-value from 100% to 12620%. So that you are 

altogether too sanguine, in expecting that by such an addition 

of I-5- hours to the working-day, the rate will rise from 100% to 

200% and more, in other words that it will be "more than dou- 
bled." On the other hand— man's heart is a wonderful thing, 
especially when carried in the purse— you take too pessimist 
a view, when you fear, that with a reduction of the hours of la- 

bour from 11— to 10, the whole of your net profit will go to the dogs. 

Not at all. All other conditions remaining the same, the surplus- 

3 3 

labour will fall from 5 -7- hours to 4 — hours, a period that still 

gives a very profitable rate of surplus-value, namely 82-^-%. 

But this dreadful "last hour," about which you have invented 
more stories than have the millenarians about the day of judg- 
ment, is "all bosh." If it goes, it will cost neither you, your net 
profit, nor the boys and girls whom you employ, their "purity 
of mind." 1 Whenever your "last hour" strikes in earnest, think 

1 If, on the one hand, Senior proved that the net profit of the manufac- 
turer, the existence of the English cotton industry, and England's command 
of the markets of the world, depend on "the last working-hour," on the other 
hand, Dr. Andrew Ure showed, that if children and young persons under 
18 years of age, instead of being kept the full 12 hours in the warm and pure 
moral atmosphere of the factory, are turned out an hour sooner into the 
heartless and frivolous outer world, they will be deprived, by idleness and 
vice, of all hope of salvation for their souls. Since 1848, the factory inspec- 
tors have never tired of twitting the masters with this "last," this "fatal 
hour." Thus Mr. Hovell in his report of the 21st May, 1855: "Had the follow- 
ing ingenious calculation (he quotes Senior) been correct, every cotton fac- 
tory in the United Kingdom would have been working at a loss since the 
year 1850." (Reports of the Insp. of Fact, lor the hall-year, ending 30th 
April, 1855, pp. 19, 20.) In the year 1848, after the passing of the 10 hours' 
bill, the masters of some flax spinning mills, scattered, few and far between, 
over the country on the borders of Dorset and Somerset, foisted a petition 
against the bill on to the shoulders of a few of their workpeople. One of 
the clauses of this petition is as follows: "Your petitioners, as parents, con- 
ceive that an additional hour of leisure will tend more to demoralise the chil- 


of the Oxford Professor. And now, gentlemen, "farewell, and may 
we meet again in yonder better world, but not before." 

Senior invented the battle cry of the "last hour" in 1836. l 
In the London Economist of the 15th April, 1848, the same cry 
was again raised by James Wilson, an economic mandarin of 
high standing: this time in opposition to the 10 hours' bill. 

dren than otherwise, believing that idleness is the parent of vice." On this 
the factory report of 31st Oct., 1848, says: The atmosphere of the flax mills, 
in which the children of these virtuous and tender parents work, is so loaded 
with dust and fibre from the raw material, that it is exceptionally unpleas- 
ant to stand even 10 minutes in the spinning rooms: for you are unable to 
do so without the most painful sensation, owing to the eyes, the ears, the 
nostrils, and mouth, being immediately filled by the clouds of flax dust from 
which there is no escape. The labour itself, owing to the feverish haste of 
the machinery, demands unceasing application of skill and movement, under 
the control of a watchfulness that never tires, and it seems somewhat hard, 
to let parents apply the term "idling" to their own children, who, after allow- 
ing for meal-times, are fettered for 10 whole hours to such an occupation, 
in such an atmosphere.... These children work longer than the labourers in 
the neighbouring villages.... Such cruel talk about "idleness and vice" ought 
to be branded as the purest cant, and the most shameless hypocrisy.... That 
portion of the public, who, about 12 years ago, were struck by the assurance 
with which, under the sanction of high authority, it was publicly and most 
earnestly proclaimed, that the whole net profit of the manufacturer flows 
from the labour of the last hour, and that, therefore, the reduction of the 
working-day by one hour, would destroy his net profit, that portion of the 
public, we say, will hardly believe its own eyes, when it now finds, that the 
original discovery of the virtues of "the last hour" has since been so far im- 
proved, as to include morals as well as profit; so that, if the duration of the 
labour of children, is reduced to a full 10 hours, their morals, together with 
the net profits of their employers, will vanish, both being dependent on this 
last, this fatal hour. (See Repts., Insp. of Fact., for 31st Oct., 1848, p. 101.) 
The same report then gives some examples of the morality and virtue of these 
same pure-minded manufacturers, of the tricks, the artifices, the cajoling, 
the threats, and the falsifications, they made use of, in order, first, to compel 
a few defenceless workmen to sign petitions of such a kind, and then to impose 
them upon Parliament as the petitions of a whole branch of industry, 
or a whole country. It is highly characteristic of the present status of so-called 
economic science, that neither Senior himself, who, at a later period, to 
his honour be it said, energetically supported the factory legislation, nor 
his opponents, from first to last, have ever been able to explain the false 
conclusions of the "original discovery." They appeal to actual experience, 
but the why and wherefore remains a mystery. 

1 Nevertheless, the learned professor was not without some benefit 
from his journey to Manchester. In the "Letters on the Factory Act," he 
makes the whole net gains including "profit" and "interest," and even "some- 
thing more," depend upon a single unpaid hour's work of the labourer. One 
year'previously, in his "Outlines of Political Economy," written for the in- 
struction of Oxford students and cultivated Philistines, he had also "dis- 
covered, in opposition to Ricardo's determination of value by labour, that 



The portion of the product that represents the surplus-value, 
(one-tenth of the 20 lbs., or 2 lbs. of yarn, in the example given 
in Sec. 2 ) we call "surplus-produce." Just as the rate of surplus- 
value is determined by its relation, not to the sum total of the 
capital, but to its variable part; in like manner, the relative quan- 
tity of surplus-produce is determined by the ratio that this prod- 
uce bears, not to the remaining part of the total product, but to 
that part of it in which is incorporated the necessary labour. 
Since the production of surplus-value is the chief end and aim 
of capitalist production, it is clear, that the greatness of a man's 
or a nation's wealth should be measured, not by the absolute 
quantity produced, but by the relative magnitude of the surplus- 
produce. x 

The sum of the necessary labour and the surplus-labour, i.e., 
of the periods of time during which the workman replaces the 
value of his labour-power, and produces the surplus-value, this 
sum constitutes the actual time during which he works, i.e., the 

profit is derived from the labour of the capitalist, and interest from his 
asceticism, in other words, from his "abstinence." The dodge was an old one, 
but the word "abstinence" was new. Herr Roscher translates it rightly by 
"Enthaltung." Some of his countrymen, the Browns, Jones, and Robinsons, 
of Germany, not so well versed in Latin as he, have, monk-like, rendered it 
by "Entsagung" (renunciation). 

1 "To an individual with a capital of £20,000, whose profits were 
£2,000 per annum, it would be a matter quite indifferent whether his capital 
would employ a 100 or 1,000 men, whether the commodity produced sold 
for £10,000 or £20,000, provided, in all cases, his profit were not diminished 
below £2,000. Is not the real interest of the nation similar? Provided its net 
real income, its rent and profits, be the same, it is of no importance whether 
the nation consists of 10 or of 12 millions of inhabitants." (Ric. 1. c, p. 
416.) Long before Ricardo, Arthur Young, a fanatical upholder of surplus- 
produce, for the rest, a rambling, uncritical writer, whose reputation is in 
the inverse ratio of his merit, says, "Of what use, in a modern kingdom, 
would be a whole province thus divided [in the old Roman manner, by 
small independent peasants], however well cultivated, except for the mere 
purpose of breeding men, which taken singly is a most useless purpose?" 
(Arthur Young: "Political Arithmetic, &c." London, 1774, p. 47.) 

Very curious is "the strong inclination ... to represent net wealth as 
beneficial to the labouring class ... though it is evidently not on account of 
being net." (Th. Hopkins, "On Rent of Land, &c." London, 1828, p. 126.) 





We started with the supposition that Labour-power is bought 
and sold at its value. Its value, like that of all other commod- 
ities, is determined by the working-time necessary to its pro- 
duction. If the production of the average daily means of sub- 
sistence of the labourer takes up 6 hours, he must work, on the 
average, 6 hours every day, to produce his daily labour-power, 
or to reproduce the value received as the result of its sale. The 
necessary part of his working-day amounts to 6 hours, and is, there- 
fore, caeteris paribus, a given quantity. But with this, the extent 
of the working-day itself is not yet given. 

Let us assume that the line A B represents the length of the 
necessary working-time, say 6 hours. If the labour be prolonged 
1, 3, or 6 hours beyond A B, we have 3 other lines: 

Working-day I. Working-day II. Working-day III. 
A - B -G. A - B — G. A B G. 

representing 3 different working-days of 7, 9, and 12 hours. 
The extension B G of the line A B represents the length of the 
surplus-labour. As the working-day is A B + B C or A C, it varies 
with the variable quantity B C. Since A B is constant, the ratio 

of BCto A B can always be calculated. In working-day I, it is -^-, 
in working-day 11, -g-, in working-day III, -g- of A B. Since, further, 

the ratio surplus working-time, determines the rate of the surplus, 

necessary working-time, 
value, the latter is given by the ratio of B G to A B. It amounts 

in the 3 different working-days respectively to 16j, 50 and 100 per 


cent. On the other hand, the rate of surplus-value alone would not 
give us the extent of the working-day. If this rate, e.g., were 100 per 
cent., the working-day might be of 8, 10, 12, or more hours. 
It would indicate that the 2 constituent parts of the working- 
day, necessary-labour and surplus-labour time, were equal in ex- 
tent, but not how long each of these two constituent parts was. 

The working-day is thus not a constant, but a variable 
quantity. One of its parts, certainly, is determined by the work- 
ing-time required for the reproduction of the labour-power of 
the labourer himself. But its total amount varies with the du- 
ration of the surplus-labour. The working-day is, therefore, deter- 
minable, but is, per se, indeterminate. x 

Although the working-day is not a fixed, but a fluent quan- 
tity, it can, on the other hand, only vary within certain limits. 
The minimum limit is, however, not determinable; of course, if we 
make the extension line B G or the surplus-labour =0, we have 
a minimum limit, i.e., the part of the day which the labourer 
must necessarily work for his own maintenance. On the basis of 
capitalist production, however, this necessary labour can form a 
part only of the working-day; the working-day itself can never be 
reduced to this minimum. On the other hand, the working-day 
has a maximum limit. It cannot be prolonged beyond a certain 
point. This maximum limit is conditioned by two things. First, 
by the physical bounds of labour-power. Within the 24 hours of 
the natural day a man can expend only a definite quantity of his 
vital force. A horse, in like manner, can only work from day to 
day, 8 hours. During part of the day this force must rest, sleep; 
during another part the man has to satisfy other physical needs, to 
feed, wash, and clothe himself. Besides these purely physical 
limitations, the extension of the working-day encounters moral 
ones. The labourer needs time for satisfying his intellectual and 
social wants, the extent and number of which are conditioned by 
the general state of social advancement. The variation of the work- 
ing-day fluctuates, therefore, within physical and social bounds. 
But both these limiting conditions are of a very elastic nature, 
and allow the greatest latitude. So we find working-days of 8, 
10, 12, 14, 16, 18 hours, i.e., of the most different lengths. 

The capitalist has bought the labour-power at its day-rate. 
To him its use-value belongs during one working-day. He has 

1 "A day's labour is vague, it may be long or short." ("An Essay on 
Trade and Commerce, Containing Observations on Taxes, &c." London, 1770. 
p. 73.) 


thus acquired the right to make the labourer work for him during 
one day. But, what is a working-day? 1 

At all events, less than a natural day. By how much? The 
capitalist has his own views of this ultima Thule, the necessary 
limit of the working-day. As capitalist, he is only capital person- 
ified. His soul is the soul of capital. But capital has one single 
life impulse, the tendency to create value and, surplus-value, to 
make its constant factor, the means of production, absorb the great- 
est possible amount of surplus-labour. 2 

Capital is dead labour, that, vampire-like, only lives by 
sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it 
sucks. The time during which the labourer works, is the time 
during which the capitalist consumes the labour-power he has 
purchased of him. 3 

If the labourer consumes his disposable time for himself, he 
robs the capitalist. 4 

The capitalist then takes his stand on the law of the ex- 
change of commodities. He, like all other buyers, seeks to get 
the greatest possible benefit out of the use-value of his commod- 
ity. Suddenly the voice of the labourer, which had been stifled 
in the storm and stress of the process of production, rises: 

The commodity that I have sold to you differs from the 
crowd of other commodities, in that its use creates value, and 
a value greater than its own. That is why you bought it. That 
which on your side appears a spontaneous expansion of capital, 
is on mine extra expenditure of labour-power. You and I know 
on the market only one law, that of the exchange of com- 
modities. And the consumption of the commodity belongs 
not to the seller who parts with it, but to the buyer, who 

1 This question is far more important than the celebrated question of 
Sir Robert Peel to the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce: What is a pound? A 
question that could only have been proposed, because Peel was as much in 
the dark as to the nature of money as the "little shilling men" of Birmingham. 

2 "It is the aim of the capitalist to obtain with his expended capital the 
greatest possible quantity of labour (d'obtenir du capital depense la plus 
Forte somme de travail possible)." J. G. Courcelle-Seneuil. "Traite theonque 
et pratique des entreprises industrielles." 2nd ed. Paris, 1857, p. 63. 

3 "An hour's labour lost in a day is a prodigious injury to a commer- 
cial State.... There is a very great consumption of luxuries among the labour- 
ing poor of this kingdom: particularly among the manufacturing populace, 
by which they also consume their time, the most fatal of consumptions." 
"An Essay on Trade and Commerce, &c," p. 47, and 153. 

4 "Si le manouvrier libre prend un instant de repos, Peconomie sordide 
qui le suit des yeux avec inquietude, pretend qu'il la vole." N. Linguet, 
"Theorie des Lois Civiles, &c." London, 1767, t. II., p. 466. 


acquires it. To you, therefore, belongs the use of my daily labour- 
power. But by means of the price that you pay for it each day, 
I must be able to reproduce it daily, and to sell it again. Apart 
from natural exhaustion through age, &c, I must be able on the 
morrow to work with the same normal amount of force, health 
and freshness as to-day. You preach to me constantly the gospel 
of "saving" and "abstinence." Good! I will, like a sensible saving 
owner, husband my sole wealth, labour-power, and abstain from 
all foolish waste of it. I will each day spend, set in motion, put 
into action only as much of it as is compatible with its normal 
duration, and healthy development. By an unlimited extension of 
the working-day, you may in one day use up a quantity of labour- 
power greater than I can restore in three. What you gain in la- 
bour I lose in substance. The use of my labour-power and the spo- 
liation of it are quite different things. If the average time that 
(doing a reasonable amount of work) an average labourer can live, 
is 30 years, the value of my labour-power, which you pay me from 

1 1 

day to day is 5 ~ Q or , Q of its total value. But if you consume 

1 1 

it in 10 years, you pay me daily 1Q95Q instead of^^-of its total 

value, i.e., only -^ of its daily value, and you rob me, therefore, 

every day of -^ of the value of my commodity. You pay me for one 

day's labour-power, whilst you use that of 3 days. That is against 
our contract and the law of exchanges. I demand, therefore, a work- 
ing-day of normal length, and I demand it without any appeal to 
your heart, for in money matters sentiment is out of place. You 
may be a model citizen, perhaps a member of the Society for the 
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and in the odour of sanctity 
to boot; but the thing that you represent face to face with me has 
no heart in its breast. That which seems to throb there is my own 
heart-beating. I demand the normal working-day because I, like 
every other seller, demand the value of my commodity. 1 

We see then, that, apart from extremely elastic bounds, the 
nature of the exchange of commodities itself imposes no limit to 
the working-day, no limit to surplus-labour. The capitalist main- 

1 During the great strike of the London builders, 1860-61, for the 
reduction of the working-day to 9 hours, their Committee published a mani- 
festo that contained, to some extent, the plea of our worker. The manifesto 
alludes, not without irony, to the fact, that the greatest profit-monger amongst 
the building masters, a certain Sir M. Peto, was in ttie odour of sanctity. 
(This same Peto, after 1867, came to an end a la Strousberg.) 


tains his rights as a purchaser when he tries to make the work- 
ing-day as long as possible, and to make, whenever possible, two 
working-days out of one. On the other hand, the peculiar nature 
of the commodity sold implies a limit to its consumption by the 
purchaser, and the labourer maintains his right as seller when he 
wishes to reduce the working-day to one of definite normal dura- 
tion. There is here, therefore, an antinomy, right against right, 
both equally bearing the seal of the law of exchanges. Between 
equal rights force decides. Hence is it that in the history of capi- 
talist production, the determination of what is a working-day, 
presents itself as the result of a struggle, a struggle between col- 
lective capital, i.e., the class of capitalists, and collective labour, 
i.e., the working-class. 


Capital has not invented surplus-labour. Wherever a part 
of society possesses the monopoly of the means of production, the 
labourer, free or not free, must add to the working-time necessa- 
ry for his own maintenance an extra working-time in order to pro- 
duce the means of subsistence for the owners of the means of pro- 
duction, 1 whether this proprietor be the Athenian xaXo; xayaOos, 
Etruscan theocrat, civis Romanus, Norman baron, American 
slave-owner, Wallachian Boyard, modern landlord or capitalist. 2 
It is, however, clear that in any given economic formation of so- 
ciety, where not the exchange-value but the use-value of the prod- 
uct predominates, surplus-labour will be limited by a given set 
of wants which may be greater or less, and that here no boundless 
thirst for surplus-labour arises from the nature of the production 
itself. Hence in antiquity over-work becomes horrible only when 
the object is to obtain exchange-value in its specific independent 
money-form; in the production of gold and silver. Compulsory 
working to death is here the recognised form of over-work. Only 
read Diodorus Siculus. 3 Still these are exceptions in antiquity. 

1 "Those who labour ... in reality teed both the pensioners ... [called 
the rich] and themselves." (Edmund Burke, 1. c, p. 2.) 

2 Niebuhr in his "Roman History" says very naively: "It is evident that 
works like the Etruscan, which in their ruins astound us, pre-suppose in 
little (!) states lords and vassals." Sismondi says far more to the purpose 
that "Brussels lace" pre-supposes wage-lords and wage-slaves. 

3 "One cannot see these unfortunates (in the gold mines between Egypt, 
Ethiopia, and Arabia) who cannot even have their bodies clean, or their 
nakedness clothed, without pitying their miserable lot. There is no indul- 
gence, no forbearance for the sick, the feeble, the aged, for woman's weak- 


But as soon as people, whose production still moves within the 
lower forms of slave-labour, corvee-labour, &c, are drawn into 
the whirlpool of an international market dominated by the capi- 
talistic mode of production, the sale of their products for export 
becoming their principal interest, the civilised horrors of over- 
work are grafted on the barbaric horrors of slavery, serfdom, &c. 
Hence the negro labour in the Southern States of the American 
Union preserved something of a patriarchal character, so long as 
production was chiefly directed to immediate local consumption. 
But in proportion, as the export of cotton became of vital inter- 
est to these states, the over-working of the negro and some- 
times the using up of his life in 7 years of labour became a fac- 
tor in a calculated and calculating system. It was no longer 
a question of obtaining from him a certain quantity of useful 
products. It was now a question of production of surplus-labour 
itself. So was it also with the corvee, e.g., in the Danubian Prin- 
cipalities (now Roumania). 

The comparison of the greed for surplus-labour in the Da- 
nubian Principalities with the same greed in English factories 
has a special interest, because surplus-labour in the corvee has 
an independent and palpable form. 

Suppose the working-day consists of 6 hours of necessary 
labour, and 6 hours of surplus-labour. Then the free labourer 
gives the capitalist every week 6x6 or 36 hours of surplus- 
labour. It is the same as if he worked 3 days in the week for him- 
self, and 3 days in the week gratis for the capitalist. But this is 
not evident on the surface. Surplus-labour and necessary labour 
glide one into the other. I can, therefore, express the same rela- 
tionship by saying, e.g., that the labourer in every minute works 
30 seconds for himself, and 30 for the capitalist, etc. It is other- 
wise with the corvee. The necessary labour which the Wallachian 
peasant does for his own maintenance is distinctly marked off 
from his surplus-labour on behalf of the Boyard. The one he does 
on his own field, the other on the seignorial estate. Both parts of 
the labour-time exist, therefore, independently, side by side one 
with the other. In the corvee the surplus-labour is accurately 
marked off from the necessary labour. This, however, can make no 
difference with regard to the quantitative relation of surplus-labour 
to necessary labour. Three days' surplus-labour in the week remain 
three days that yield no equivalent to the labourer himself, wheth- 

ness. All must, forced by blows, work on until death puts an end to their 
sufferings and their distress." ("Diod. Sic. Bibl. Hist.," lib. 2, c. 13.) 


er it be called corvee or wage-labour. But in the capitalist the 
greed for surplus-labour appears in the straining after an unlim- 
ited extension of the working-day, in the Boyard more simply 
in a direct hunting after days of corvee. 1 

In the Danubian Principalities the corvee was mixed up with 
rents in kind and other appurtenances of bondage, but it formed 
the most important tribute paid to the ruling class. Where this 
was the case, the corvee rarely arose from serfdom; serfdom much 
more frequently on the other hand took origin from the corvee. 2 
This is what took place in the Roumanian provinces. Their orig- 
inal mode of production was based on community of the soil, 
but not in the Slavonic or Indian form. Part of the land was cul- 
tivated in severalty as freehold by the members of the community, 
another part — ager publicus — was cultivated by them in com- 
mon. The products of this common labour served partly as a re- 
serve fund against bad harvests and other accidents, partly as a 
public store for providing the costs of war, religion, and other 
common expenses. In course of time military and clerical digni- 
taries usurped, along with the common land, the labour spent 
upon it. The labour of the free peasants on their common land was 
transformed into corvee for the thieves of the common land. This 
corvee soon developed into a servile relationship existing in point 
of fact, not in point of law, until Russia, the liberator of the world, 
made it legal under pretence of abolishing serfdom. The code of 
the corvee, which the Russian General Kisseleff proclaimed 
in 1831, was of course dictated by the Boyards themselves. 
Thus Russia conquered with one blow the magnates of the Da- 
nubian provinces, and the applause of liberal cretins throughout 

According to the "Reglement organique," as this code of the 
corvee is called, every Wallachian peasant owes to the so-called 

1 That which follows refers to the situation in the Roumanian prov- 
inces before the change effected since the Crimean war. 

2 This holds likewise for Germany, and especially for Prussia east 
of the Elbe. In the 15th century the German peasant was nearly everywhere 
a man, who, whilst subject to certain rents paid in produce and labour was 
otherwise at least practically free. The German colonists in Brandenburg, 
Pomerania, Silesia, and Eastern Prussia, were even legally acknowledged as 
free men. The victory of the nobility in the peasants' war put an end to that. 
Not only were the conquered South German peasants again enslaved. From 
the middle of the 16th century the peasants of Eastern Prussia, Brandenburg, 
Pomerania, and Silesia, and soon after the free peasants of Schleswig- 
Holstein were degraded to the condition of serfs. (Maurer, Fronhofe iv. 
vol.,— Meitzen, "Der Boden des preussischen Staats."— Hanssen, "Leibeigen- 
schaft in Schleswig-Holstein."— F. E.) 


landlord, besides a mass of detailed payments in kind: (1), 12 
days of general labour; (2), one day of field labour; (3), one day 
of wood carrying. In all, 14 days in the year. With deep insight 
into Political Economy, however, the working-day is not taken 
in its ordinary sense, but as the working-day necessary to the pro- 
duction of an average daily product; and that average daily prod- 
uct is determined in so crafty a way that no Cyclops would be 
done with it in 24 hours. In dry words, the Reglement itself de- 
clares with true Russian irony that by 12 working-days one must 
understand the product of the manual labour of 36 days, by 1 
day of field labour 3 days, and by 1 day of wood carrying in like 
manner three times as much. In all, 42 corvee days. To this had 
to be added the so-called jobagie, service due to the lord for ex- 
traordinary occasions. In proportion to the size of its population, 
every village has to furnish annually a definite contingent to the 
jobagie. This additional corvee is estimated at 14 days for each 
Wallachian peasant. Thus the prescribed corvee amounts to 56 
working-days yearly. But the agricultural year in Wallachia num- 
bers in consequence of the severe climate only 210 days, of which 
40 for Sundays and holidays, 30 on an average for bad weather, 
together 70 days, do not count. 140 working-days remain. The 

ratio of the corvee to the necessary labour ^- or 66-r- % gives a much 

smaller rate of surplus-value than that which regulates the la- 
bour of the English agricultural or factory labourer. This is, 
however, only the legally prescribed corvee. And in a spirit yet 
more "liberal" than the English Factory Acts, the "Reglement orga- 
nique" has known how to facilitate its own evasion. After it has 
made 56 days out of 12, the nominal day's work of each of the 56 
corvee days is again so arranged that a portion of it must fall on 
the ensuing day. In one day, e.g., must be weeded an extent of 
land, which, for this work, especially in maize plantations, needs 
twice as much time. The legal day's work for some kinds of agri- 
cultural labour is interpretable in such a way that the day begins 
in May and ends in October. In Moldavia conditions are still 
harder. "The 12 corvee days of the 'Reglement organique' cried 
a Boyard drunk with victory, amount to 365 days in the year." 1 
If the Reglement organique of the Danubian provinces was 
a positive expression of the greed for surplus-labour which every 
paragraph legalised, the English Factory Acts are the negative 

1 Further details are to be found in E. Regnault^s "Histoire politique 
el sociale des Principautes Danubiennes," Paris, 1855. 


expression of the same greed. These acts curb the passion of cap- 
ital for a limitless draining of labour-power, by forcibly limit* 
ing the working-day by state regulations, made by a state that 
is ruled by capitalist and landlord. Apart from the working-class 
movement that daily grew more threatening, the limiting of 
factory labour was dictated by the same necessity which spread 
guano over the English fields. The same blind eagerness for plun- 
der that in the one case exhausted the soil, had, in the other, 
torn up by the roots the living force of the nation. Periodical 
epidemics speak on this point as clearly as the diminishing mil- 
itary standard in Germany and France. 1 

the Factory Act of 1850 now in force (1867) allows for the 
average working-day 10 hours, i.e., for the first 5 days 12 hours 

from 6 a. m. to 6 p. m., including -j an hour for breakfast, and 
an hour for dinner, and thus leaving 10 y working-hours, and 
8 hours for Saturday, from 6 a. m. to 2 p. m., of which — an hour 
is subtracted for breakfast. 60 working-hours are left, 10 y for 

each of the first 5 days, 1-j for the last. 2 Certain guardians of 

these laws are appointed, Factory Inspectors, directly under the 
Home Secretary, whose reports are published half-yearly, by 
order of Parliament. They give regular and official statistics of 
the capitalistic greed for surplus-labour. 

1 "In general and within certain limits, exceeding the medium size 
of their kind, is evidence of the prosperity of organic beings. As to man, 
his bodily height lessens if his due growth is interfered with, either by phys- 
ical or social conditions. In all European countries in which the conscrip- 
tion holds, since its introduction, the medium height of adult men, and 
generally their fitness for military service, has diminished. Before the revo- 
lution (1789), the minimum for the infantry in France was 165 centimetres; 
in 1818 (law of March 10th), 157; by the law of March 21, 1832, 156 c. m.; 
on the average in France more than half are rejected on account of deficient 
height or bodily weakness. The military standard in Saxony was in 1780, 
178 c. m. It is now 155. In Prussia it is 157. According to the statement of 
Dr. Meyer in the Bavarian Gazette, May 9th, 1862, the result of an average 
of 9 years is, that in Prussia out of 1,000 conscripts 716 were unfit for 
military service, 317 because of deficiency in height, and 399 because of 
bodily defects.... Berlin in 1858 could not provide its contingent of recruits; 
it was 156 men short." J. von Liebig: "Die Chemie in ihrer Anwendung auf 
Agrikultur und Physiologie, 1862," 7th Ed., vol. I., pp. 117, 118. 

2 The history of the Factory Act of 1850 will be found in the course 
of this chapter. 


Let us listen, for a moment, to the Factory Inspectors. l 
"The fraudulent mill-owner begins work a quarter of an hour 
(sometimes more, sometimes less) before 6 a. m., and leaves off 
a quarter of an hour (sometimes more, sometimes less) after 
6 p. m. He takes 5 minutes from the beginning and from the 
end of the half hour nominally allowed for breakfast, and 10 
minutes at the beginning and end of the hour nominally allowed 
for dinner. He works for a quarter of an hour (sometimes more, 
sometimes less) after 2 p. m. on Saturday. Thus his gain is — 

Belore 6 a. m 15 minutes. 

Alter 6 p. m., 15 

At breakfast time, 10 

At dinner time 20 

Five days— 300 minutes, 60 

On Saturday before 6 a. m., 15 minutes. 

At breakfast time, 10 

After 2 p. m., 15 

40 minutes. 
Total weekly, 340 minutes. 

Or 5 hours and 40 minutes weekly, which multiplied by 50 
working weeks in the year (allowing two for holidays and oc- 
casional stoppages) is equal to 27 working-days." 2 

1 I only touch here and there on the period from the beginning of mod- 
ern industry in England to 1845. For this period I refer the reader to "Die 
Lage der arbeitenden Klasse in England," von Friedrich Engels, Leipzig, 
1845. How completely Engels understood the nature of the capitalist mode 
of production is shown by the Factory Reports, Reports on Mines, &c, that 
have appeared since 1845, and how wonderfully he painted the circumstances 
in detail is seen on the most superficial comparison of his work with the 
official reports of the Children's Employment Commission, published 18 to 
20 years later (1863-1867). These deal especially with the branches of in- 
dustry in which the Factory Acts had not, up to 1862, been introduced, in 
fact are not yet introduced. Here, then, little or no alteration had been en- 
forced, by authority, in the conditions painted by Engels. I borrow my 
examples chiefly from the Free-trade period after 1848, that age of paradise, 
of which the commercial travellers for the great firm of Free-trade, blatant 
as ignorant, tell such fabulous tales. For the rest England figures here in 
the foreground because she is the classic representative of capitalist produc- 
tion, and she alone has a continuous set of official statistics of the things 
we are considering. 

2 "Suggestions, &c. by Mr. L. Horner, Inspector of Factories," in 
Factories Regulation Acts. Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed, 
0th August, 1859, pp. 4, 5. 


"Five minutes a day's increased work, multiplied by weeks, 
are equal to two and a half days of produce in the year." 1 

"An additional hour a day gained by small instalments be- 
fore 6 a. m., after 6 p. m., and at the beginning and end of the 
times nominally fixed for meals, is nearly equivalent to working 
13 months in the year." 2 

Crises during which production is interrupted and the fac- 
tories work "short time," i.e., for only a part of the week, natu- 
rally do not affect the tendency to extend the working-day. The 
less business there is, the more profit has to be made on the busi- 
ness done. The less time spent in work, the more of that time has 
to be turned into surplus labour-time. 

Thus the Factory Inspector's report on the period of the cri- 
sis from 1857 to 1858: 

"It may seem inconsistent that there should be any over- 
working at a time when trade is so bad; but that very badness 
leads to the transgression by unscrupulous men, they get the ex- 
tra profit of it In the last half year, says Leonard Hor- 
ner, 122 mills in my district have been given up; 143 were found 
standing," yet, over-work is continued beyond the legal hours. 3 

"For a great part of the time," says Mr. Howell, "owing to the 
depression of trade, many factories were altogether closed, and a 
still greater number were working short time. I continue, how- 
ever, to receive about the usual number of complaints that half, 
or three-quarters of an hour in the day, are snatched from the 
workers by encroaching upon the times professedly allowed for 
rest and refreshment." 4 The same phenomenon was reproduced 
on a smaller scale during the frightful cotton-crisis from 1861 
to 1865. 5 "It is sometimes advanced by way of excuse, when 
persons are found at work in a factory, either at a meal hour, 
or at some illegal time, that they will not leave the mill at the 
appointed hour, and that compulsion is necessary to force them 
to cease work [cleaning their machinery, &c], especially on 
Saturday afternoons. But, if the hands remain in a factory aft- 
er the machinery has ceased to revolve . . . they would not 

1 Reports of the Inspector of Factories for the half year, October, 1856, 
p. 35. 

2 Reports, &c, 30th April, 1858, p. 9. 

3 Reports, &c, I. c, p. 10. 

4 Reports, &c, I. c, p 25. 

5 Reports, &c, for the half year ending 30th April, 1861. See Appen- 
dix No. 2; Reports, &c, 31st October, 1862, pp. 7, 52, 53. The violations of 
the Acts became more numerous during the last half year 1863. Gf. Reports, 
&c, ending 31st October, 1863, p. 7. 


have been so employed if sufficient time had been set apart spe- 
cially for cleaning, &c, either before 6 a. m. [sic/] or before 2 
p. m. on Saturday afternoons." 1 

"The profit to be gained by it (over-working in violation of 
the Act) appears to be, to many, a greater temptation than they 
can resist; they calculate upon the chance of not being found 
out; and when they see the small amount of penalty and costs, 
which those who have been convicted have had to pay, they find 
that if they should be detected there will still be a considerable 
balance of gain. . . . 2 In cases where the additional time is 
gained by a multiplication of small thefts in the course of the day, 
there are insuperable difficulties to the inspectors making out 
a case." 3 

These "small thefts" of capital from the labourer's meal and 
recreation time, the factory inspectors also designate as "petty 
pilferings of minutes," 4 "snatching a few minutes," 5 or, as the 
labourers technically called them, "nibbling and cribbling at 
meal-times." 6 

1 Reports, &c, October 31st, 1860, p. 23. With what fanaticism, accord- 
ing to the evidence of manufacturers given in courts of law, their hands 
set themselves against every interruption in factory labour, the following curi- 
ous circumstance shows. In the beginning of June, 1836, information reached 
the magistrates of Dewsbury (Yorkshire) that the owners of 8 large mills 
in the neighbourhood of Batley had violated the Factory Acts. Some of these 
gentlemen were accused of having kept at work 5 boys between 12 and 15 years 
of age, from 6a.m. on Friday to 4p.m. on the following Saturday, not allowing 
them any respite except for meals and one hour for sleep at midnight. And 
these children had to do this ceaseless labour of 30 hours in the "shoddy- 
hole," as the hole is called, in which the woollen rags are pulled in pieces, 
and where a dense atmosphere of dust, shreds, &c, forces even the adult 
workman to cover his mouth continually with handkerchiefs for the protec- 
tion of his lungs! The accused gentlemen affirm in lieu of taking an oath — as 
quakers they were too scrupulously religious to take an oath— that they 
had, in their great compassion for the unhappy children, allowed them four 
hours for sleep, but the obstinate children absolutely would not go to bed. 
The quaker gentlemen were mulcted in £20. Dryden anticipated these gentry: 

"Fox full fraught in seeming sanctity, 
That feared an oath, but like the devil would lie, 
That look'd like Lent, and had the holy leer, 
And durst not sin! before he said his prayer!" 

2 Rep., 31st Oct., 1856, p. 34. 

3 1. c, p 35. 
* 1. c. p 48. 

5 I. c, p 48. 

6 1. c, p. 48. 


It is evident that in this atmosphere the formation of surplus- 
value by surplus-labour, is no secret. "If you allow me," said 
a highly respectable master to me, "to work only ten minutes 
in the day over-time, you put one thousand a year in my pocket." 1 
"Moments are the elements of profit." 2 

Nothing is from this point of view more characteristic than 
the designation of the workers who work full time as "full-timers," 
and the children under 13 who are only allowed to work 6 hours 
as "half-timers." The worker is here nothing more than personi- 
fied labour-time. All individual distinctions are merged in those 
of "full-timers" and "half-timers." 3 


We have hitherto considered the tendency to the extension of 
the working-day, the were-wolf's hunger for surplus-labour in 
a department where the monstrous exactions, not surpassed, 
says an English bourgeois economist, by the cruelties of the 
Spaniards to the American red-skins, 4 caused capital at last to 
be bound by the chains of legal regulations. Now, let us cast 
a glance at certain branches of production in which the exploita- 
tion of labour is either free from fetters to this day, or was so 

Mr. Broughton Charlton, county magistrate, declared, as 
chairman of a meeting held at the Assembly Rooms, Nottingham, 
on the 14th January, 1860, "that there was an amount of priva- 
tion and suffering among that portion of th« population con- 
nected with the lace trade, unknown in other parts of the king- 
dom, indeed, in the civilised world... Children of nine or 
ten years are dragged from their squalid beds at two, three, or 
four o'clock in the morning and compelled to work for a bare 
subsistence until ten, eleven, or twelve at night, their limbs 

1 1. c, p. 48. 

2 Report of the Insp. &c, 30th April, 1860, p. 56. 

3 This is the official expression both in the factories and in the reports. 
* "The cupidity of mill-owners whose cruelties in the pursuit of 

gain have hardly been exceeded by those perpetrated by the Spaniards on 
the conquest of America in the pursuit of gold." John Wade, "History ol the 
Middle and Working Classes," 3rd Ed. London, 1835, p 114. The theoretical 
part of this book, a kind of hand-book of Political Economy, is, consider- 
ing the time of its publication, original in some parts, e.g., on commercial 
crises. The historical part is, to a great extent, a shameless plagiarism of 
Sir F. M. Eden's "The State of the Poor," London, 1797. 


wearing away, their frames dwindling, their faces whitening, 
and their humanity absolutely sinking into a stone-like torpor, 
utterly horrible to contemplate We are not sur- 
prised that Mr. Mallett, or any other manufacturer, should stand 

forward and protest against discussion The system, as 

the Rev. Montagu Valpy describes it, is one of unmitigated slav- 
ery, socially, physically, morally, and spiritually 

What can be thought of a town which holds a public meeting to 
petition that the period of labour for men shall be diminished 
to eighteen hours a day? .... We declaim against the Vir- 
ginian and Carolinian cotton-planters. Is their black-market, 
their lash, and their barter of human flesh more detestable than 
this slow sacrifice of humanity which takes place in order that 
veils and collars may be fabricated for the benefit of capitalists?" 1 

The potteries of Staffordshire have, during the last 22 years, 
been the subject of three parliamentary inquiries. The result is 
embodied in Mr. Scriven's Report of 1841 to the "Children's 
Employment Commissioners," in the report of Dr. Greenhow 
of 1860 published by order of the medical officer of the Privy 
Council (Public Health, 3rd Report, 112-113), lastly, in the 
report of Mr. Longe of 1862 in the "First Report of the Chil- 
dren's Employment Commission, of the 13th June, 1863." For 
my purpose it is enough to take, from the reports of 1860 and 
1863, some depositions of the exploited children themselves. 
From the children we may form an opinion as to the adults, 
especially the girls and women, and that in a branch of industry 
by the side of which cotton-spinning appears an agreeable and 
healthful occupation. 2 

William Wood, 9 years old, was 7 years and 10 months when 
he began to work. He "ran moulds" (carried ready-moulded ar- 
ticles into the drying-room, afterwards bringing back the 
empty mould) from the beginning. He came to work every day 
in the week at 6 a. m., and left off about 9 p. m. "I work till 
9 o'clock at night six days in the week. I have done so seven 
or eight weeks." Fifteen hours of labour for a child 7 years old! 
J. Murray, 12 years of age, says: "I turn jigger, and run moulds. 
I come at 6. Sometimes I come at 4. I worked all night last night, 
till 6 o'clock this morning. I have not been in bed since the night 
before last. There were eight or nine other boys working last night. 
All but one have come this morning. I get 3 shillings and sixpence. I 

1 Daily Telegraph, 17th January, 1860. 

2 Gf. F. Engels' "Lage, etc." pp 249-51. 


do not get any more for working at night. I worked two nights 
last week." Fernyhough, a boy often: "I have not always an hour 
(for dinner). I have onTy half an hour sometimes; on Thursday, 
Friday, and Saturday." 1 

Dr. Greenhow states that the average duration of life in 
the pottery districts of Stoke-on-Trent, and Wolstanton is ex- 
traordinarily short. Although in the district of Stoke, only 
36.6% and in Wolstanton only 30.4% of the adult male popu- 
lation above 20 are employed in the potteries, among the men 

of that age in the first district more than half, in the second, 

nearly -=- of the whole deaths are the result of pulmonary diseases 


among the potters. Dr. Boothroyd, a medical practitioner 
at Hanley, says: "Each successive generation of potters is more 
dwarfed and less robust than the preceding one." In like man- 
ner another doctor, Mr. M'Bean: "Since he began to practise 
among the potters 25 years ago, he had observed a marked de- 
generation especially shown in diminution of stature and 
breadth." These statements are taken from the report of Dr. 
Greenhow in I860. 2 

From the report of the Commissioners in 1863, the following: 
Dr. J. T. Arledge, senior physician of the North Staffordshire 
Infirmary, says: "The potters as a class, both men and women, 
represent a degenerated population, both physically and morally. 
They are, as a rule, stunted in growth, ill-shaped, and frequently 
ill-formed in the chest; they become prematurely old, and are 
certainly short-lived; they are phlegmatic and bloodless, and 
exhibit their debility of constitution by obstinate attacks of 
dyspepsia, and disorders of the liver and kidneys, and by rheu- 
matism. But of all diseases they are especially prone to chest- 
disease, to pneumonia, phthisis, bronchitis, and asthma. One 
form would appear peculiar to them, and is known as potter's 
asthma, or potter's consumption. Scrofula attacking the glands, 
or bones, or other parts of the body, is a disease of two-thirds 

or more of the potters That the 'degenerescence' of 

the population of this district is not even greater than it is, is 
due to the constant recruiting from the adjacent country, and 
intermarriages with more healthy races." 3 

1 Children's Employment Commission. First report, etc., 1863. Evi- 
dence, pp. 16, 19, 18. 

2 Public Health, 3rd report, etc., pp. 102, 104, 105. 
8 Child. Empl. Comm. 1. Report, p. 24. 


Mr. Charles Parsons, late house surgeon of the same institu- 
tion, writes in a letter to Commissioner Longe, amongst other 
things: "I can only speak from personal observation and not from 
statistical data, but I do not hesitate to assert that my indigna- 
tion has been aroused again and again at the sight of poor 
children whose health has been sacrificed to gratify the avarice 
of either parents or employers." He enumerates the causes of 
the diseases of the potters, and sums them up in the phrase, 
"long hours." The report of the Commission trusts that "a manu- 
facture which has assumed so prominent a place in the whole 
world, will not long be subject to the remark that its great 
success is accompanied with the physical deterioration, wide- 
spread bodily suffering, and early death of the workpeople . . . 
by whose labour and skill such great results have been 
achieved." 1 And all that holds of the potteries in England is 
true of those in Scotland. 2 

The manufacture of lucifer matches dates from 1833, from 
the discovery of the method of applying phosphorus to the 
match itself. Since 1845 this manufacture has rapidly devel- 
oped in England, and has extended especially amongst the 
thickly populated parts of London as well as in Manchester, 
Birmingham, Liverpool, Bristol, Norwich, Newcastle and Glas- 
gow. With it has spread the form of lockjaw, which a Vienna 
physician in 1845 discovered to be a disease peculiar to 
lucifer-matchmakers. Half the workers are children under 
thirteen, and young persons under eighteen. The manufacture 
is on account of its unhealthiness and unpleasantness in such 
bad odour that only the most miserable part of the labouring 
class, half-starved widows and so forth, deliver up their 
children to it, "the ragged, half-starved, untaught children." 3 

Of the witnesses that Commissioner White examined (1863), 
270 were under 18, 50 under 10, 10 only 8, and 5 only 6 years 
old. A range of the working-day from 12 to 14 or 15 hours, 
night-labour, irregular meal-times, meals for the most part 
taken in the very workrooms that are pestilent with phospho- 
rus. Dante would have found the worst horrors of his 
Inferno surpassed in this manufacture. 

In the manufacture of paper-hangings the coarser sorts are 
printed by machine; the finer by hand (block-printing). The 

1 Children's Employment Commission, p. 22, and xi. 

2 1. c, p. xlvii. 
8 I. c, p. liv. 


most active business months are from the beginning of October 
to the end of April. During this time the work goes on fast and 
furious without intermission from 6 a. m. to 10 p. m. or further 
into the night. 

J. Leach deposes: "Last winter six out of nineteen girls 
were away from ill-health at one time from over-work. I have 
to bawl at them to keep them awake." W. Duffy: "I have seen 
when the children could none of them keep their eyes open for 
the work; indeed, none of us could." J. Lightbourne: "Am 13 . . . 
We worked last winter till 9 (evening), and the winter before till 
10. I used to cry with sore feet every night last winter." G. Aps- 
den: "That boy of mine . . . when he was 7 years old I used to 
carry him on my back to and fro through the snow, and he used 
to have 16 hours a day ... I have often knelt down to feed 
him as he stood by the machine, for he could not leave it or stop." 
Smith, the managing partner of a Manchester factory: "We (he 
means his "hands" who work for "us") work on, with no stoppage 

for meals, so that the day's work of lOyhours is finished by 4.30 
p. m., and all after that is over-time." 1 (Does this Mr. Smith take 
no meals himself during 10y hours?) "We (this same Smith) sel- 
dom leave off working before 6 p. m. (he means leave off the 
consumption of "our" labour-power machines), so that we (ite- 
rum Grispinus) are really working over-time the whole year 

round For all these, children and adults alike (152 

children and young persons and 140 adults), the average work 
for the last 18 months has been at the very least 7 days, 5 
hours, or 78^- hours a week. For the six weeks ending May 

2nd this year~(1862), the average was higher— 8 days or 84 
hours a week." Still this same Mr. Smith, who is so extremely 
devoted to the pluralis majestatis, adds with a smile, "Machine- 
work is not great." So the employers in the block-printing say: 
"Hand labour is more healthy than machine-work." On the 
whole, manufacturers declare with indignation against the 
1 This is not to be taken in the same sense as our surplus-labour 
time. These gentlemen consider lO-^- hours of labour as the normal working- 
day which includes ot course the normal surplus-labour. After this be- 
gins "over-time" which is paid a little better. It will be seen later that the 
labour expended during the so-called normal day is paid below its value, 
so that the over-time is simply a capitalist trick in order to extort more 
surplus-labour, which it would still be, even if the labour-power expend- 
ed during the normal working-day were properly paid. 


proposal "to stop the machines at least during meal-times." 
A clause, says Mr. Otley, manager of a wall-paper factory in 
the Borough, "which allowed work between, say 6 a. m. and 9 
p. m. ... would suit us (!) very well, but the factory hours, 
6 a. m. to 6 p. m., are not suitable. Our machine is always 
stopped for dinner. (What generosity!) There is no waste of pa- 
per and colour to speak of. But," he adds sympathetically, "I can 
understand the loss of time not being liked." The report of the 
Commission opines with naivete that the fear of some "leading 
firms" of losing time, i.e., the time for appropriating the labour 
of others, and thence losing profit is not a sufficient reason for 
allowing children under 13, and young persons under 18, working 
12 to 16 hours per day, to lose their dinner, nor for giving it to 
them as coal and water are supplied to the steam-engine, soap 
to wool, oil to the wheel — as merely auxiliary material to the 
instruments of labour, during the process of production itself. * 

No branch of industry in England (we do not take into 
account the making of bread by machinery recently introduced) 
has preserved up to the present day a method of production 
so archaic, so — as we see from the poets of the Roman Em- 
pire — pre-christian, as baking. But capital, as was said earlier, 
is at first indifferent as to the technical character of the labour- 
process; it begins by taking it just as it finds it. 

The incredible adulteration of bread, especially in London, 
was first revealed by the House of Commons Committee "on 
the adulteration of articles of food" (1855-56), and Dr. Has- 
sall's work, "Adulterations detected." 2 The consequence of these 
revelations was the Act of August 6th, 1860, "for preventing the 
adulteration of articles of food and drink," an inoperative law, 
as it naturally shows the tenderest consideration for every Free- 
trader who determines by the buying or selling of adulterated 
commodities "to turn an honest penny." 3 The Committee itself 
formulated more or less naively its conviction that Free-trade 
meant essentially trade with adulterated, or as the English in- 

1 I. c, Evidence, pp. 123, 124, 125, 140, and 54. 

2 Alum finely powdered, or mixed with salt, is a normal article of com- 
merce bearing the significant name of "bakers' stuff." 

3 Soot is a well-known and very energetic form of carbon, and forms 
a manure that capitalistic chimney-sweeps sell to English farmers. Now in 
1862 the British juryman had in a law-suit to decide whether soot, with 
which, unknown to the buyer, 90% of dust and sand are mixed, is genuine 
soot in the commercial sense or adulterated soot in the legal sense. The "amis 
du commerce" decided it to be genuine commercial soot, and non-suited the 
plaintiff farmer, who had in addition to pay the costs of the suit. 


geniously put it, "sophisticated" goods. In fact this kind of so- 
phistry knows better than Protagoras how to make white black, 
and black white, and better than the Eleatics how to demon- 
strate ad oculos that everything is only appearance. 1 

At all events the Committee had directed the attention of 
the public to its "daily bread," and therefore to the baking trade. 
At the same time in public meetings and in petitions to Par- 
liament rose the cry of the London journeymen bakers against 
their over-work, &c. The cry was so urgent that Mr. H. S. Tre- 
menheere, also a member of the Commission of 1863 several times 
mentioned, was appointed Royal Commissioner of Inquiry. His 
report, 2 together with the evidence given, roused not the heart 
of the public but its stomach. Englishmen, always well up in 
the Bible, knew well enough that man, unless by elective grace 
a capitalist, or landlord, or sinecurist, is commanded to eat his 
bread in the sweat of his brow, but they did not know that he 
had to eat daily in his bread a certain quantity of human per- 
spiration mixed with the discharge of abscesses, cobwebs, dead 
black-beetles, and putrid German yeast, without counting alum, 
sand, and other agreeable mineral ingredients. Without any re- 
gard to his holiness, Free-trade, the free baking-trade was there- 
fore placed under the supervision of the State inspectors (Close 
of the Parliamentary session of 1863), and by the same Act of 
Parliament, work from 9 in the evening to 5 in the morning was 
forbidden for journeymen bakers under 18. The last clause speaks 
volumes as to the over-work in this old-fashioned, homely line 
of business. 

"The work of a London journeyman baker begins, as a rule, 
at about eleven at night. At that hour he 'makes the dough,' 
—a laborious process, which lasts from half an hour to three 
quarters of an hour, according to the size of the batch or the 
labour bestowed upon it. He then lies down upon the kneading- 
board, which is also the covering of the trough in which 

1 The French chemist, Chevallier, in his treatise on the "sophistica- 
tions" of commodities, enumerates for many of the 600 or more articles 
which he passes in review, 10, 20, 30 different methods of adulteration. He 
adds that he does not know all the methods, and does not mention all that he 
knows. He gives 6 kinds of adulteration of sugar, 9 of olive oil, 10 of nutter, 
12 of salt, 19 of milk, 20 of bread, 23 of brandy, 24 of meal, 28 of chocolate, 
30 of wine, 32 of coffee, etc. Even God Almighty does not escape this fate. 
See Rouard de Card, "On the Falsifications of the Materials of the Sacrament." 
("De la falsification des substances sacramentelles," Paris, 1856.) 

2 "Report, &c, relative to the grievances complained of by the jour- 
neymen bakers, &c, London, 1862," and "Second Report, &c, London, 1863." 


the dough is 'made'; and with a sack under him, and another 
rolled up as a pillow, he sleeps for about a couple of hours. He 
is then engaged in a rapid and continuous labour for about 
five hours— throwing out the dough, 'scaling it off,' moulding 
it, putting it into the oven, preparing and baking rolls and 
fancy bread, taking the batch bread out of the oven, and up in- 
to the shop, &c, &c. The temperature of a bakehouse ranges 
from about 75 to upwards of 90 degrees, and in the smaller 
bakehouses approximates usually to the higher rather than to 
the lower degree of heat. When the business of making the 
bread, rolls, &c, is over, that of its distribution begins, and a 
considerable proportion of the journeymen in the trade, after 
working hard in the manner described during the night, are 
upon their legs for many hours during the day, carrying baskets, 
or wheeling hand-carts, and sometimes again in the bakehouse, 
leaving off work at various hours between 1 and 6 p. m. ac- 
cording to the season of the year, or the amount and nature 
of their master's business; while others are again engaged in 
the bakehouse in 'bringing out' more batches until late in the 
afternoon. 1 . . . During what is called 'the London season,' 
the operatives belonging to the 'full-priced' bakers at the West 
End of the town, generally begin work at 11 p. m., and are en- 
gaged in making the bread, with one or two short (sometimes 
very short) intervals of rest, up to 8 o'clock the next morning. 
They are then engaged all day long, up to 4, 5, 6, and as late 
as 7 o'clock in the evening carrying out bread, or sometimes in 
the afternoon in the bakehouse again, assisting in the biscuit- 
baking. They may have, after they have done their work, some- 
times five or six, sometimes only four or five hours' sleep be- 
fore they begin again. On Fridays they always begin sooner, 
some about ten o'clock, and continue in some cases, at work, 
either in making or delivering the bread up to 8 p. m. on 
Saturday night, but more generally up to 4 or 5 o'clock, 
Sunday morning. On Sundays the men must attend twice or 
three times during the day for an hour or two to make prep- 
arations for the next day's bread. . . . The men employed 
by the underselling masters (who sell their bread under the 
'full price,' and who, as already pointed out, comprise three- 
fourths of the London bakers) have not only to work on the 
average longer hours, but their work is almost entirely confined 
to the bakehouse. The underselling masters generally sell their 

1 1. c. First Report, &c, p. vi. 


bread. ... in the shop. If they send it out, which is not common, 
except as supplying chandlers' shops, they usually employ other 
hands for that purpose. It is not their practice to deliver bread 

from house to house. Towards the end of the week the 

men begin on Thursday night at 10 o'clock, and continue on with 
only slight intermission until late on Saturday evening." 1 

Even the bourgeois intellect understands the position of the 
"underselling" masters. "The unpaid labour of the men was 
made the source whereby the competition was carried on." 2 And 
the "full-priced" baker denounces his underselling competitors 
to the Commission of Inquiry as thieves of foreign labour and 
adulterators. "They only exist now by first defrauding the public, 
and next getting 18 hours' work out of their men for 12 hours' 
wages." 3 

The adulteration of bread and the formation of a class of 
bakers that sells the bread below the full price, date from the 
beginning of the 18th century, from the time when the corpo- 
rate character of the trade was lost, and the capitalist in the 
form of the miller or flour-factor, rises behind the nominal master 
baker. 4 Thus was laid the foundation of capitalistic production 
in this trade, of the unlimited extension of the working-day and 
of night-labour, although the latter only since 1824 gained a se- 
rious footing, even in London. 5 

After what has just been said, it will be understood that the 
Report of the Commission classes journeymen bakers among the 
short-lived labourers, who, having by good luck escaped the nor- 
mal decimation of the children of the working-class, rarely reach 
the age of 42. Nevertheless, the baking trade is always over- 
whelmed with applicants. The sources of the supply of these labour- 
powers to London are Scotland, the western agricultural dis- 
tricts of England, and Germany. 

1 1. c, p. lxxi. 

2 George Read, "The History of Baking," London, 1848, p. 16. 

3 Report (First) &c. Evidence of the "full-priced" baker Cheeseman, 
p. 108, 

4 George Read, 1. c. At the end of the 17th and the beginning oi the 
18th centuries the factors (agents) that crowded into every possible trade 
were still denounced as "public nuisances." Thus the Grand Jury at the quar- 
ter session of the Justices of the Peace for the County of Somerset, addressed 
a presentment to the Lower House which, among other things, states, "that 
these factors of Blackwell Hall are a Public Nuisance and Prejudice to the 
Clothing Trade, and ought to be put down as a Nuisance." "The Case of 
our English Wool., &c," London, 1685, pp. 6, 7. 

* First Report, &c. 


In the years 1858-60, the journeymen bakers in Ireland 
organised at their own expense great meetings to agitate 
against night and Sunday work. The public— e.g., at the Dub- 
lin meeting in May, 1860 — took their part with Irish warmth. 
As a result of this movement, day-labour alone was successfully 
established in Wexford, Kilkenny, Clonmel, Waterford, &c. 
"In Limerick, where the grievances of the journeymen are dem- 
onstrated to be excessive, the movement has been defeated by 
the opposition of the master bakers, the miller bakers being the 
greatest opponents. The example of Limerick led to a retrogres- 
sion in Ennis and Tipperary. In Cork, where the strongest pos- 
sible demonstration of feeling took place, the masters, by exer- 
cising their power of turning the men out of employment, have 
defeated the movement. In Dublin, the master bakers have of- 
fered the most determined opposition to the movement, and by dis- 
countenancing as much as possible the journeymen promoting 
it, have succeeded in leading the men into acquiescence in Sun- 
day work and night-work, contrary to the convictions of the men." 1 
The Committee of the English Government, which Govern- 
ment, in Ireland, is armed to the teeth, and generally knows 
how to show it, remonstrates in mild, though funeral, tones 
with the implacable master bakers of Dublin, Limerick, Cork, 
&c. "The Committee believe that the hours of labour are lim- 
ited by natural laws, which cannot be violated with impu- 
nity. That for master bakers to induce their workmen, by 
the fear of losing employment, to violate their religious con- 
victions and their better feelings, to disobey the laws of the 
land, and to disregard public opinion (this all refers to Sunday 
labour), is calculated to provoke ill-feeling between workmen 
and masters, . . . and affords an example dangerous to reli- 
gion, morality, and social order. . . . The Committee be- 
lieve that any constant work beyond 12 hours a-day encroaches 
on the domestic and private life of the working-man, and so leads 
to disastrous moral results, interfering with each man's home, and 
the discharge of his family duties as a son, a brother, a husband, 
a father. That work beyond 12 hours has a tendency to under- 
mine the health of the working-man, and so leads to premature 
old age and death, to the great injury of families of working-men, 
thus deprived of the care and support of the head of the family 
when most required."* 

1 Report oi Committee on the Baking Trade in Ireland for 1861. 
* 1. c. 



So far, we have dealt with Ireland. On the other side of 
the channel, in Scotland, the agricultural labourer, the plough- 
man, protests against his 13-14 hours' work in the most in- 
clement climate, with 4 hours' additional work on Sunday (in 
this land of Sabbatarians!), 1 whilst, at the same time, three 
railway men are standing before a London coroner's jury— a 
guard, an engine-driver, a signalman. A tremendous railway 
accident has hurried hundreds of passengers into another world. 
The negligence of the employes is the cause of the mis- 
fortune. They declare with one voice before the jury that 
ten or twelve years before, their labour only lasted eight hours 
a-day. During the last five or six years it had been screwed up 
to 14, 18, and 20 hours, and under a specially severe pressure 
of holiday-makers, at times of excursion trains, it often lasted 
for 40 or 50 hours without a break. They were ordinary men, 
not Cyclops. At a certain point their labour-power failed. Tor- 
por seized them. Their brain ceased to think, their eyes to see. 
The thoroughly "respectable" British jurymen answered by a 
verdict that sent them to the next assizes on a charge of man- 
slaughter, and, in a gentle "rider" to their verdict, expressed the 
pious hope that the capitalistic magnates of the railways would, 
in future, be more extravagant in the purchase of a sufficient 
quantity of labour-power, and more "abstemious," more "self- 
denying," more "thrifty," in the draining of paid labour-power. 2 

From the motley crowd of labourers of all callings, ages, 
sexes, that press on us more busily than the souls of the slain 
on Ulysses, on whom — without referring to the Blue books 
under their arms — we see at a glance the mark of over-work, 
let us take two more figures whose striking contrast proves that 
before capital all men are alike— a milliner and a blacksmith. 

1 Public meeting of agricultural labourers at Lasswade, near Edinburgh, 
January 5th, 1866. (See Workman's Advocate, January 13th, 1866.) The 
formation since the close of 1865 of a Trades' Union among the agricultural 
labourers at first in Scotland is a historic event. In one of the most oppressed 
agricultural districts of England, Buckinghamshire, the labourers, in March, 
1867, made a great strike for the raising of their weekly wage from 9-10 
shillings to 12 shillings. (It will be seen from the preceding passage that the 
movement of the English agricultural proletariat, entirely crushed since 
the suppression of its violent manifestations after 1830. and especially 
since the introduction of the new Poor Laws, begins again in the sixties, 
until it becomes finally epoch-making in 1872. I return to this in the 2nd 
volume, as well as to the Blue books that have appeared since 1867 on the 
position of the English land labourers. Addendum to the 3rd ed.) 

2 Reynolds' Newspaper, January, 1866. — Every week this same 
paper has, under the sensational headings, "Fearful and fatal accidents," 


In the last week of June, 1863, all the London daily papers 
published a paragraph with the "sensational" heading, "Death 
from simple over-work." It dealt with the death of the milli- 
ner, Mary Anne Walkley, 20 years of age, employed in a highly- 
respectable dressmaking establishment, exploited by a lady 
with the pleasant name of Elise. The old, often-told story, 1 

was once more recounted. This girl worked, on an average, 16^ 

hours, during the season often 30 hours, without a break, 
whilst her failing labour-power was revived by occasional 
supplies of sherry, port, or coffee. It was just now the height 
of the season. It was necessary to conjure up in the twinkling 
of an eye the gorgeous dresses for the noble ladies bidden to 
the ball in honour of the newly-imported Princess of Wales. 

Mary Anne Walkley had worked without intermission for 26y 

hours, with 60 other girls, 30 in one room, that only afforded -j 

of the cubic feet of air required for them. At night, they slept 
in pairs in one of the stifling holes into which the bedroom was 
divided by partitions of board. 2 And this was one of the best 

Appalling tragedies," &c, a whole list of fresh railway catastrophes. On 
these an employe on the North Staffordshire line comments: "Everyone knows 
the consequences that may occur if the driver and fireman of a locomotive 
engine are not continually on the look-out. How can that be expected from 
a man who has been at such work for 29 or 30 hours, exposed to the weather, 
and without rest. The following is an example which is of very frequent 
occurrence: — One fireman commenced work on the Monday morning at 
a very early hour. When he had finished what is called a day's work, he 
had been on duty 14 hours 50 minutes. Before he had time to get his tea, he 
was again called on for duty.... The next time he finished he had been on duty 

14 hours 25 minutes, making a total of 29 hours 15 minutes without inter- 
mission. The rest of the week's work was made up as follows: — Wednesday, 


15 hours; Thursday, 15 hours 35 minutes; Friday, 14— hours; Saturday, 

14 hours 10 minutes, making a total for the week of 88 hours 40 minutes. 
iNow, sir, fancy his astonishment on being paid 6—- days for the whole. Think- 
ing it was a mistake, he applied to the time-keeper, ... and inquired what 
they considered a day's work, and was told 13 hours for a goods man (i.e., 
78 hours).... He then asked for what he had made over and above the 78 hours 
per week, but was refused. However, he was at last told they would give 
him another quarter, i.e., 10 d.," I. c, 4th February, 1866. 

1 Cf. F. Engels, 1. c, pp. 253, 254. 

2 Dr. Letheby, Consulting Physician of the Board of Health, declared: 
"The minimum of air for each adult ought to be in a sleeping room 300, 
and in a dwelling room 500 cubic feet." Dr. Richardson', Senior Physician 
to one of the London Hospitals: "With needlewomen of all kinds, including 


millinery establishments in London. Mary Anne Walkley fell 
ill on the Friday, died on Sunday, without, to the astonishment 
of Madame Elise, having previously completed the work in 
hand. The doctor, Mr. Keys, called too late to the death-bed, du- 
ly bore witness before the coroner's jury that "Mary Anne Walk- 
ley had died from long hours of work in an over-crowded work- 
room, and a too small and badly-ventilated bedroom." In or- 
der to give the doctor a lesson in good manners, the coroner's 
jury thereupon brought in a verdict that "the deceased had died 
of apoplexy, but there was reason to fear that her death had 
been accelerated by over- work in an over-crowded workroom, &c." 
"Our white slaves," cried the Morning Star, the organ of the Free- 
traders, Gobden and Bright, "our white slaves, who are toiled in- 
to the grave, for the most part silently pine and die." * 

"It is not in dressmakers' rooms that working to death is 
the order of the day, but in a thousand other places; in every 
place I had almost said, where 4 a thriving business' has to be 

milliners, dressmakers, and ordinary sempstresses, there are three miseries — 
over-work, deficient air, and either deficient food or deficient digestion.... 
Needlework, in the main, ... is infinitely better adapted to women than to 
men. But the mischiefs of the trade, in the metropolis especially, are that 
it is monopolised by some twenty-six capitalists, who, under the advan- 
tages that spring from capital, can bring in capital to force economy out of 
labour. This power tells throughout the whole class. If a dressmaker can get 
a little circle of customers, such is the competition that, in her home, she 
must work to the death to hold together, and this same over-work she must 
of necessity inflict on any who may assist her. If she fail, or do not try 
independently, she must join an establishment, where her labour is not 
less, but where her money is safe. Placed thus, she becomes a mere slave, 
tossed about with the variations of society. Now at home, in one room, starv- 
ing, or near to it, then engaged 15, 16, aye, even 18 hours out of the 24, 
in an air that is scarcely tolerable, and on food which, even if it be good, 
cannot be digested in the absence of pure air. On these victims, consump- 
tion, which is purely a disease of baa air, feeds." Dr. Richardson: "Work 
and Over-work," in "Social Science Review," 18th July, 1863. 

1 Morning Star, 23rd June, 1863.— The Times made use of the 
circumstance to defend the American slave-owners against Bright, &c. "Very 
many of us think," says a leader of July 2nd, 1863, "that, while we work our 
own young women to death, using the scourge of starvation, instead of the 
crack of the whip, as the instrument of compulsion, we have scarcely a right 
to hound on fire and slaughter against families who were born slave-owners, 
and who, at least, feed their slaves well, and work them lightly." In the 
same manner, the Standard, a Tory organ, fell foul of the Rev. Newman 
Hall: "He excommunicated the slave-owners, but prays with the fine folk 
who. without remorse, make the omnibus drivers and conductors of London, 
&.C., work 16 hours a-day for the wages of a dog." Finally, spake the oracle, 
Thomas Carlyle, of whom I wrote, in 1850, "Zum Teufel ist der Genius, der 
Kultus ist geblieben." In a short parable, he reduces the one great event of 
contemporary history, the American Civ'.l War, to this level, that the Peter 


done. . . . We will take the blacksmith as a type. If the poets 
were true, there is no man so hearty, so merry, as the blacksmith; 
he rises early and strikes his sparks before the sun; he eats and 
drinks and sleeps as no other man. Working in moderation, he is, 
in fact, in one of the best of human positions, physically speaking. 
But we follow him into the city or town, and we see the stress of 
work on that strong man, and what then is his position in the death- 
rate of his country. In Marylebone, blacksmiths die at the rate of 
31 per thousand per annum, or 11 above the mean of the male 
adults of the country in its entirety. The occupation, instinctive 
almost as a portion of human art, unobjectionable as a branch of 
human industry, is made by mere excess of work, the destroyer of 
the man. He can strike so many blows per day, walk so many steps, 
breathe so many breaths, produce so much work, and live an aver- 
age, say of fifty years; he is made to strike so many more blows, 
to walk so many more steps, to breathe so many more breaths 
per day, and to increase altogether a fourth of his life. He meets 
the effort; the result is, that producing for a limited time a fourth 
more work, he dies at 37 for 50." 1 


Constant capital, the means of production, considered from 
the standpoint of the creation of surplus-value, only exist to 
absorb labour, and with every drop of labour a proportional 
quantity of surplus-labour. While they fail to do this, their 
mere existence causes a relative loss to the capitalist, for they 
represent during the time they lie fallow, a useless advance of 
capital. And this loss becomes positive and absolute as soon 
as the intermission of their employment necessitates additional 
outlay at the recommencement of work. The prolongation of 
the working-day beyond the limits of the natural day, into 
the night, only acts as a palliative. It quenches only in a slight 
degree the vampire thirst for the living blood of labour. To ap- 
propriate labour during all the 24 hours of the day is, therefore, 

of the North wants to break the head of the Paul of the South with all his 
might, because the Peter of the North hires his labour by the day, and the 
Paul of the South hires his by the life. ("Macmi Han's Magazine." Ilias 
Americana in nuce. August, 1863.) Thus, the bubble of Tory sympathy for 
the urban workers — by no means for the rural — has burst at last. The sum 
of all is — slavery! 

1 Dr. Richardson, t c. 


the inherent tendency of capitalist production. But as it is phys- 
ically impossible to exploit the same individual labour-power 
constantly during the night as well as the day, to overcome this 
physical hindrance, an alternation becomes necessary between 
the workpeople whose powers are exhausted by day, and those 
who are used up by night. This alternation may be effected in 
various ways; e.g., it may be so arranged that part of the work- 
ers are one week employed on day-work, the next week on night- 
work. It is well known that this relay system, this alternation of 
two sets of workers, held full sway in the full-blooded youth- 
time of the English cotton manufacture, and that at the pres- 
ent time it still flourishes, among others, in the cotton spinning 
of the Moscow district. This 24 hours' process of production exists 
to-day as a system in many of the branches of industry of Great 
Britain that are still "free," in the blast-furnaces, forges, plate- 
rolling mills, and other metallurgical establishments in Eng- 
land, Wales, and Scotland. The working-time here includes, be- 
sides the 24 hours of the 6 working-days, a great part also of the 
24 hours of Sunday. The workers consist of men and women, 
adults and children of both sexes. The ages of the children and 
young persons run through all intermediate grades, from 8 (in 
some cases from 6) to 18. * 

In some branches of industry, the girls and women work 
through the night together with the males. 2 

Placing on one side the generally injurious influence of night- 
labour, 3 the duration of the process of production, unbroken 

1 Children's Employment Commission. Third Report. London, 1864, 
pp. iv., v., vi. 

2 "Both in Staffordshire and in South Wales young girls and women 
are employed on the pit banks and on the coke heaps, not only by day 
but also by night. This practice has been often noticed in Reports presented 
to Parliament, as -being attended with great and notorious evils. These fe- 
males employed with the men, hardly distinguished from them in their dress, 
and begrimed with dirt and smoke, are exposed to the deterioration of char- 
acter, arising from the loss of self-respect, which can hardly fail to follow 
from their unfeminine occupation." (1. c, 194, p. xxvi. Cf. Fourth Report 
(1865), 61, p. xiii.) It is the same in glass-works. 

8 A steel manufacturer who employs children in night-labour remarked: 
"It seems but natural that boys who work at night cannot sleep and get 
proper rest by day. but will be running about." (1. c, Fourth Report, 63, 
p. xiii.) On the importance of sunlight for the maintenance and growth of 
the body, a physician writes: "Light also acts upon the tissues of the body 
directly in hardening them and supporting their elasticity. The muscles of 
animals, when they are deprived of a proper amount of light, become soft 
and inelastic, the nervous power loses its tone from defective stimulation^ 
and the elaboration of all growth seems to be perverted... In the case of 


during the 24 hours, offers very welcome opportunities of exceeding 
the limits of the normal working-day, e. g., in the branches of 
industry already mentioned, which are of an exceedingly fatigu- 
ing nature; the official working-day means for each worker 
usually 12 hours by night or day. But the over-work beyond this 
amount is in many cases, to use the words of the English official 
report, "truly fearful." 1 

"It is impossible," the report continues, "for any mind to 
realise the amount of work described in the following passages 
as being performed by boys of from 9 to 12 years of age .... 
without coming irresistibly to the conclusion that such abuses 
of the power of parents and of employers can no longer be al- 
lowed to exist." 2 

"The practice of boys working at all by day and night turns 
either in the usual course of things, or at pressing times, seems 
inevitably to open the door to their not unfrequently working 
unduly long hours. These hours are, indeed, in some cases, not 
only cruelly but even incredibly long for children. Amongst 
a number of boys it will, of course, not unfrequently happen that 
one or more are from some cause absent. When this happens, 
their place is made up by one or more boys, who work in the 
other turn. That this is a well understood system is plain . . . 
from the answer of the manager of some large rolling-mills, who, 
when I asked him how the place of the boys absent from their 
turn was made up, 'I daresay, sir, you know that as well as I 
do,' and admitted the fact." 3 

"At a rolling-mill where the proper hours were from 6 a. m. 

to 5y P- m -» a D0V worked about four nights every week till 

children, constant access to plenty of light during the day, and to the direct 
rays of the sun lor apart of it, is most essential to health. Light assists in 
the elaboration of good plastic blood, and hardens the fibre alter it has been 
laid down. It also acts as a stimulus upon the organs of sight, and by this 
means brings about more activity in the various cerebral functions." Dr. W. 
Strange, Senior Physician of the Worcester General Hospital, from whose 
work on "Health" (1864) this passage is taken, writes in a letter to Mr. 
White, one of the commissioners: "I have had opportunities formerly, when 
in Lancashire, of observing the effects of night-work upon children, and I 
have no hesitation in saying, contrary to what some employers were fond of 
asserting, those children who were subjected to it soon suffered in their 
health." (1. c, 284., p. 55.) That such a question should furnish the mate- 
rial of serious controversy, shows plainly how capitalist production acts on 
the brain-functions of capitalists and their retainers. 

1 1. c, 57, p. xii. 

2 1. c, Fourth Report (1865), 58, p. xii. 

3 1. c. 



8^- p. m. at least . . . and this for six months. Another, at 9 

years old, sometimes made three 12-hour shifts running, and, 
when 10, has made two days and two nights running." A third, 
"now 10 . . . worked from 6 a. m. till 12 p. m. three nights, 
and till 9 p. m. the other nights." "Another, now 13, . . . 
worked from 6 p. m. till 12 noon next day, for a week together, 
and sometimes for three shifts together, e.g., from Monday morn- 
ing till Tuesday night." "Another, now 12, has worked in an 
iron foundry at Stavely from 6 a. m. till 12 p. m. for a fortnight 
on end; could not do it any more." "George Allinsworth, age 9, 
came here as cellar-boy last Friday; next morning we had to be- 
gin at 3, so I stopped here all night. Live five miles off. Slept 
on the floor of the furnace, over head, with an apron under me, 
and a bit of a jacket over me. The two other days I have been here 
at 6 a. m. Aye! it is hot in here. Before I came here I was nearly 
a year at the same work at some works in the country. Began 
there, too, at 3 on Saturday morning — always did, but was very 
gain [near] home, and could sleep at home. Other days I began 
at 6 in the morning, and gi'en over at 6 or 7 in the evening," &c. 1 

1 1. c, p. xiii. The degree of culture of these "labour-powers" must 
naturally be such as appears in the following dialogues with one of the com- 
missioners: Jeremiah Haynes, age 12 — "Four times four is 8; 4 fours are 
16. A king is him that has all the money and gold. We have a King (told it 
is a Queen), they call her the Princess Alexandra. Told that she married the 
Queen's son. The Queen's son is the Princess Alexandra. A Princess is a man." 
William Turner, age 12 — "Don't live in England. Think it is a country, 
but didn't know before." John Morris, age 14 — "Have heard say that God 
made the world, and that all the people was drownded but one; heard say 
that one was a little bird." William Smith, age 15 — "God made man, man 
made woman." Edward Taylor, age 15 — "Do not know of London." Henry 
Matthewman, age 17 — "Had been to chapel, but missed a good many times 
lately. One name that they preached about was Jesus Christ, but I cannot say 
any others, and J cannot tell anything about him. He was not killed, but died 
like other people. He was not the same as other people in some ways, because 
he was religious in some ways, and others isn't." (1. c, p. xv.) "The devil is 
a good person. I don't know where he lives." "Christ was a wicked man." 
"This girl spelt God as dog, and did not know the name of the queen." ("Ch. 
Employment Comm. V. Report, 1866," p. 55, n. 278.) The same system ob- 
tains in the glass and paper works as in the metallurgical, already cited. 
In the paper factories, where the paper is made by machinery, night-work 
is the rule for all processes, except rag-sorting. In some cases night-work, by 
relays, is carried on incessantly through the whole week, usually from Sun- 
day night until midnight of the following Saturday. Those who are on day- 
work work 5 days of 12, and 1 day of 18 hours; those on night-work 5 nights 
of 12, and 1 of 6 hours in each week. In other cases each set works 24 hours 
consecutively on alternate days, one set working 6 hours on Monday, and 18 
on Saturday to make up the 24 hours. In other cases an intermediate system 


Let us now hear how capital itself regards this 24 hours' sys- 
tem. The extreme forms of the system, its abuse in the "cru- 
el and incredible" extension of the working-day are naturally 
passed over in silence. Capital only speaks of the system in its 
"normal" form. 

Messrs. Naylor & Vickers, steel manufacturers, who employ 
between 600 and 700 persons, among whom only 10 per cent, 
are under 18, and of those, only 20 boys under 18 work in night 
sets, thus express themselves: "The boys do not suffer from 

the heat. The temperature is probably from 86° to 90° 

At the forges and in the rolling-mills the hands work night and 
day, in relays, but all the other parts of the work are day-work, 
i.e., from 6 a. m. to 6 p. m. In the forge the hours are from 12 to 12. 
Some of the hands always work in the night, without any alterna- 
tion of day and night work We do not find any differ- 
ence in the health of those who work regularly by night and 
those who work by day, and probably people can sleep better if 

they have the same period of rest than if it is changed 

About 20 of the boys under the age of 18 work in the night sets. 
. We could not well do without lads under 18 working 
by night. The objection would be the increase in the cost of pro- 
duction Skilled hands and the heads in every depart- 
ment are difficult to get, but of lads we could get any number. 
But from the small proportion of boys that we em- 
ploy, the subject (i.e., of restrictions on night-work) is of little 
importance or interest to us." 1 

Mr. J. Ellis, one of the firm of Messrs. John Brown & Co., 
steel and iron works, employing about 3,000 men and boys, part 

prevails, by which all employed on the paper-making machinery work 15 or 
16 hours every day in the week. This system, says Commissioner Lord, 
"seems to combine all the evils of both the 12 hours' and the 24 hours' relays." 
Children under 13, young persons under 18, and women, work under this 
night system. Sometimes under the 12 hours' system they are obliged, on ac- 
count of the non-appearance of those that ought to relieve them, to work 
a double turn of 24 hours. The evidence proves that boys and girls very often 
work over-time, which, not unfrequently, extends to 24 or even 36 hours 
of uninterrupted toil. In the continuous and unvarying process of glazing 
are found girls of 12 who work the whole month 14 hours a day, "without 
any regular relief or cessation beyond 2 or, at most, 3 breaks of half an hour 
each for meals." In some mills, where regular night-work has been entire- 
ly given up, over-work goes on to a terrible extent, "and that often in the 
dirtiest, and in the hottest, and in the most monotonous of the various 
processes." ("Ch. Employment Comm. Report IV., 1865," p. xxxviii, and 
xxxix ) 

1 Fourth Report, &c, 1865, 79, p. xvi. 



of whose operations, namely, iron and heavier steel work, goes 
on night and day by relays, states "that in the heavier steel work 
one or two boys are employed to a score or two men." Their con- 
cern employs upwards of 500 boys under 18, of whom about -^- 

or 170 are under the age of 13. With reference to the proposed 
alteration of the law, Mr. Ellis says: "I do not think it 
would be very objectionable to require that no person under 
the age of 18 should work more than 12 hours in the 24. But we 
do not think that any line could be drawn over the age of 12, 
at which boys could be dispensed with for night-work. But 
we would sooner be prevented from employing boys under the 
age of 13, or even so high as 14, at all, than not be allowed to 
employ boys that we do have at night. Those boys who work 
in the day sets must take their turn in the night sets also, be- 
cause the men could not work in the night sets only; it would 

ruin their health We think, however, that night-work 

in alternate weeks is no harm. (Messrs. Naylor & Vickers, on 
the other hand, in conformity with the interest of their busi- 
ness, considered that periodically changed night-labour might 
possibly do more harm than continual night-labour.) We find 
the men who do it, as well as the others who do other work only 

by day Our objections to not allowing boys under [ 

18 to work at night, would be on account of the increase of ex- 
pense, but this is the only reason. (What cynical naivete!) We 
think that the increase would be more than the trade, with due 
regard to its being successfully carried out, could fairly bear. 
(What mealy-mouthed phraseology!) Labour is scarce here, and 
might fall short if there were such a regulation." (i.e., Ellis Brown 
& Go. might fall into the fatal perplexity of being obliged to pay. 
labour-power its full value.) 1 

The "Cyclops Steel and Iron Works," of Messrs. Cammell & 
Co., are conducted on the same large scale as those of the above- 
mentioned John Brown & Co. The managing director had 
handed in his evidence to the Government Commissioner, Mr. 
White, in writing. Later he found it convenient to suppress 
the MS. when it had been returned to him for revision. Mr. 
White, however, has a good memory. He remembered quite 
clearly that for the Messrs. Cyclops the forbidding of the night- 
labour of children and young persons "would be impossible, it 
would be tantamount to stopping their works," and yet their 

1. c, 80, p. xvi. 


business employs little more than 6% of boys under 18, and 
less than 1% under 13. x 

On the same subject Mr. E. F. Sanderson, of the firm of 
Sanderson, Bros., & Co., steel rolling-mills and forges, Attercliffe, 
says: "Great difficulty would be caused by preventing boys un- 
der 18 from working at night. The chief would be the in- 
crease of cost from employing men instead of boys. I cannot say 
what this would be, but probably it would not be enough to 
enable the manufacturers to raise the price of steel, and con- 
sequently it would fall on them, as of course the men (what 
queer-headed folk!) would refuse to pay it." Mr. Sanderson does 
not know how much he pays the children, but "perhaps the young- 
er boys get from 4s. to 5s. a week. . . . The boys' work is of a 
kind for which the strength of the boys is generally ('generally,' of 
course not always) quite sufficient, and consequently there would 
be no gain in the greater strength of the men to counterbalance the 
loss, or it would be only in the few cases in which the metal is 
heavy. The men would not like so well not to have boys under 
them, as men would be less obedient. Besides, boys must begin 
young to learn the trade. Leaving day-work alone open to boys 
would not answer this purpose." And why not? Why could not 
boys learn their handicraft in the day-time? Your reason? "Owing 
to the men working days and nights in alternate weeks, the men 
would be separated half the time from their boys, and would 
lose half the profit which they make from them. The training 
which they give to an apprentice is considered as part of the 
return for the boys' labour, and thus enables the men to get it 
at a cheaper rate. Each man would want half of this profit." In 
other words, Messrs. Sanderson would have to pay part of the 
wages of the adult men out of their own pockets instead of by the 
night- work of the boys. Messrs. Sanderson's profit would thus 
fall to some extent, and this is the good Sandersonian reason why 
boys cannot learn their handicraft in the day. 2 In addition to 
this, it would throw night-labour on those who worked instead 
of the boys, which they would not be able to stand. The difficul- 
ties in fact would be so great that they would very likely lead to 
the giving up of night-work altogether, and "as far as the work 
itself is concerned," says E. F. Sanderson, "this would suit as 

1 1. c, 82, p. xvii. 

2 In our reflecting and reasoning age a man is not worth much who 
cannot give a good reason for everything, no matter hpw bad or how crazy. 
Everything in the world that has been done wrong has been done wrong for 
the very best of reasons. (Hegel, 1. c, p. 249.) 


well, but — " But Messrs. Sanderson have something else to make 
besides steel. Steel-making is simply a pretext for surplus-value 
making. The smelting furnaces, rolling-mills, &c, the build- 
ings, machinery, iron, coal, &c, have something more to do 
than transform themselves into steel. They are there to absorb 
surplus-labour, and naturally absorb more in 24 hours than in 
12. In fact they give, by grace of God and law, the Sandersons a 
cheque on the working-time of a certain number of hands for all 
the 24 hours of the day, and they lose their character as capital, 
are therefore a pure loss for the Sandersons, as soon as their func- 
tion of absorbing labour is interrupted. "But then there would 
be the loss from so much expensive machinery, lying idle half 
the time, and to get through the amount of work which we are 
able to do on the present system, we should have to double our 
premises and plant, which would double the outlay." But why 
should these Sandersons pretend to a privilege not enjoyed by 
the other capitalists who only work during the day, and whose 
buildings, machinery, raw material, therefore lie "idle" during 
the night? E. F. Sanderson answers in the name of all the San- 
dersons: "It is true that there is this loss from machinery ly- 
ing idle in those manufactories in which work only goes on by 
day. But the use of furnaces would involve a further loss in our 
case. If they were kept up there would be a waste of fuel (instead 
of, as now, a waste of the living substance of the workers), and if 
they were not, there would be loss of time in laying the fires and 
getting the heat up (whilst the loss of sleeping time, even to chil- 
dren of 8 is a gain of working-time for the Sanderson tribe), and 
the furnaces themselves would suffer from the changes of tem- 
perature." (Whilst those same furnaces suffer nothing from the 
day and night change of labour.) 1 

1 1. c, 85, p. xvii. To similar tender scruples of the glass manufac- 
turers that regular meal-times for the children are impossible because as a 
consequence a certain quantity of heat, radiated by the furnaces, would be 
'a pure loss" or "wasted," Commissioner White makes answer. His answer 
is unlike that of Ure, Senior, &c, and their puny German plagiarists a la 
Roscher who are touched by the "abstinence," "self-denial," "saving," of the 
capitalists in the expenditure of their gold, and by their Timur-Tamer- 
lanish prodigality of human life! "A certain amount of heat beyond what is 
usual at present might also be going to waste, if meal-times were secured 
in these cases, but it seems likely not equal in money-value to the waste of 
animal power now going on in glass-houses throughout the kingdom from 
growing boys not having enough quiet time to eat their meals at ease, with a 
little rest afterwards for digestion." (1. c, p. xlv.) And this in the year of 
progress 1865! Without considering the expenditure of strength in lifting 
and carrying, such a child, in the sheds where bottle and flint glass are made, 




"What is a working-day? What is the length of time dur- 
ing which capital may consume the labour-power whose daily 
value it buys? How far may the working-day be extended 
beyond the working-time necessary for the reproduction of 
labour-power itself?" It has been seen that to these ques- 
tions capital replies: the working-day contains the full 24 
hours, with the deduction of the few hours of repose without 
which labour-power absolutely refuses its services again. Hence 
it is self-evident that the labourer is nothing else, his 
whole life through, than labour-power, that therefore all his 
disposable time is by nature and law labour-time, to be devoted 
to the self-expansion of capital. Time for education, for intel- 
lectual development, for the fulfilling of social functions and 
for social intercourse, for the free-play of his bodily and men- 
tal activity, even the rest time of Sunday (and that in a 
country of Sabbatarians!) 1 — moonshine! But in its blind un- 

walks during the performance of his work 15-20 miles in every 6 hours! 
And the work often lasts 14 or 15 hours! In many of these glass works, as in 
the Moscow spinning mills, the system of 6 hours' relays is in force. "During 
the working part of the week six hours is the utmost unbroken period ever 
attained at any one time for rest, and out of this has to come the time spent 
in coming and going to and from work, washing, dressing, and meals, leav- 
ing a very short period indeed for rest, and none for fresh air and play, 
unless at the expense of the sleep necessary for young boys, especially at 
such hot and fatiguing work... Even the short sleep is obviously liable to be 
broken by a boy having to wake himself if it is night, or by the noise, if it 
is day." Mr. White gives cases where a boy worked 36 consecutive hours; 
others where boys of 12 drudged on until 2 in the morning, and then slept 
in the works till 5 a. m. (3 hours!) only to resume their work. "The amount of 
work," say Tremenheere and Tufnell, who drafted the general report, "done 
by boys, youths, girls, and women, in the course of their daily or nightly 
spell of labour, is certainly extraordinary." (1. c, xliii. and xliv.) Mean- 
while, late by night perhaps, self-denying Mr. Glass-Capital, primed with 
port wine, reels out of his club homeward droning out idiotically, "Britons 
never, never shall be slaves!" 

1 In England even now occasionally in rural districts a labourer is 
condemned to imprisonment for desecrating the Sabbath, by working in 
his front garden. The same labourer is punished for breach of contract if 
he remains away from his metal, paper, or glass works on the Sunday, even 
if it be from a religious whim. The orthodox Parliament will hear nothing 
of Sabbath-breaking if it occurs in the process of expanding capital. A memo- 


restrainable passion, its were-wolf hunger for surplus-labour, 
capital oversteps not only the moral, but even the merely 
physical maximum bounds of the working-day. It usurps the 
time for growth, development, and healthy maintenance of 
the body. It steals the time required for the consumption of 
fresh air and sunlight. It higgles over a meal-time, incorporat- 
ing it where possible with the process of production itself, so 
that food is given to the labourer as to a mere means of pro- 
duction, as coal is supplied to the boiler, grease and oil to the 
machinery. It reduces the sound sleep needed for the resto- 
ration, reparation, refreshment of the bodily powers to just so 
many hours of torpor as the revival of an organism, absolutely 
exhausted, renders essential. It is not the normal maintenance 
of the labour-power which is to determine the limits of the 
working-day; it is the greatest possible daily expenditure of 
labour-power, no matter how diseased, compulsory, and painful 
it may be, which is to determine the limits of the labourers' 
period of repose. Capital cares nothing for the length of life of 
labour-power. All that concerns it is simply and solely the 
maximum of labour-power, that can be rendered fluent in a 
working-day. It attains this end by shortening the extent of 
the labourer's life, as a greedy farmer snatches increased prod- 
uce from the soil by robbing it of its fertility. 

The capitalistic mode of production (essentially the pro- 
duction of surplus-value, the absorption of surplus-labour), 
produces thus, with the extension of the working-day, not only 
the deterioration of human labour-power by robbing it of its 
normal, moral and physical, conditions of development and 
function. It produces also the premature exhaustion and death 
of this labour-power itself. 1 It extends the labourer's time of 
production during a given period by shortening his actual life- 

rial (August 1863), in which the London day-labourers in fish and poultry 
shops asked for the abolition of Sunday labour, states that their work lasts 
for the first 6 days of the week on an average 15 hours a-day, and on Sunday 
8-10 hours. From this same memorial we learn also that the delicate gour- 
mands among the aristocratic hypocrites of Exeter Hall, especially encourage 
this "Sunday labour." These "holy ones," so zealous in cute curanda, show 
their Christianity by the humility with which they bear the over-work, the 
privations, and the hunger of others. Obsequium ventris istis (the labourers) 
perniciosius est. 

1 "We have given in our previous reports the statements of several 
experienced manufacturers to the effect that over-hours ... certainly tend pie* 
maturely to exhaust the working power of the men." (I. c, 64, p. xiii.) 


But the value of the labour-power includes the value of the 
commodities necessary for the reproduction of the worker, or 
for the keeping up of the working-class. If then the unnatural 
extension of the working-day, that capital necessarily strives 
after in its unmeasured passion for self-expansion, shortens the 
length of life of the individual labourer, and therefore the 
duration of his labour-power, the forces used up have to be re- 
placed at a more rapid rate and the sum of the expenses for 
the reproduction of labour-power will be greater; just as in a 
machine the part of its value to be reproduced every day is 
greater the more rapidly the machine is worn out. It would 
seem therefore that the interest of capital itself points in the 
direction of a normal working-day. 

The slave-owner buys his labourer as he buys his horse. If 
he loses his slave, he loses capital that can only be restored by 
new outlay in the slave-mart. But "the rice-grounds of Geor- 
gia, or the swamps of the Mississippi may be fatally injurious 
to the human constitution; but the waste of human life 
which the cultivation of these districts necessitates, is not 
so great that it cannot be repaired from the teeming preserves 
of Virginia and Kentucky. Considerations of economy, more- 
over, which, under a natural system, afford some security for 
humane treatment by identifying the master's interest with 
the slave's preservation, when once trading in slaves is practised, 
become reasons for racking to the uttermost the toil of the 
slave; for, when his place can at once be supplied from foreign 
preserves, the duration of his life becomes a matter of less mo- 
ment than its productiveness while it lasts. It is accordingly 
a maxim of slave management, in slave-importing countries, 
that the most effective economy is that which takes out of the 
human chattel in the shortest space of time the utmost amount 
of exertion it is capable of putting forth. It is in tropical cul- 
ture, where annual profits often equal the whole capital of planta- 
tions, that negro life is most recklessly sacrificed. It is the agri- 
culture of the West Indies, which has been for centuries prolific 
of fabulous wealth, that has engulfed millions of the African 
race. It is in Cuba, at this day, whose revenues are reckoned by 
millions, and whose planters are princes, that we see in the ser- 
vile class, the coarsest, the most exhausting and unremit- 
ting toil, and even the absolute destruction of a portion of its 
numbers every year." 1 

1 Cairnes, "The Slave Power," pp. 110, 111. 


Mutato nomine de te fabula narratur. For slave-trade 
read labour-market, for Kentucky and Virginia, Ireland and 
the agricultural districts of England, Scotland, and Wales, 
for Africa, Germany. We heard how over- work thinned the 
ranks of the bakers in London. Nevertheless, the London la- 
bour-market is always over-stocked with German and other 
candidates for death in the bakeries. Pottery, as we saw, is 
one of the shortest-lived industries. Is there any want there- 
fore of potters? Josiah Wedgwood, the inventor of modern pot- 
tery, himself originally a common workman, said in 1785 
before the House of Commons that the whole trade employed 
from 15,000 to 20,000 people. l In the year 1861 the population 
alone of the town centres of this industry in Great Britain num- 
bered 101 ,302. "The cotton trade has existed for ninety years. . . . 
It has existed for three generations of the English race, and I 
believe I may safely say that during that period it has destroyed 
nine generations of factory operatives." 2 

No doubt in certain epochs of feverish activity the labour- 
market shows significant gaps. In 1834, e.g. But then the 
manufacturers proposed to the Poor Law Commissioners that 
they should send the "surplus-population" of the agricultural 
districts to the north, with the explanation "that the manufac- 
turers would absorb and use it up." 3 "Agents were appoint- 
ed with the consent of the Poor Law Commissioners. . . . 
An office was set up in Manchester, to which lists were sent of 
those workpeople in the agricultural districts wanting employ- 
ment, and their names were registered in books. The manufac- 
turers attended at these offices, and selected such persons as 
they chose; when they had selected such persons as their 'wants 
required,' they gave instructions to have them forwarded to Man- 
chester, and they were sent, ticketed like bales of goods, by ca- 
nals, or with carriers, others tramping on the road, and many of 
them were found on the way lost and half-starved. This system 
had grown up unto a regular trade. This House will hardly be- 
lieve it, but I tell them, that this traffic in human flesh was as 
well kept up, they were in effect as regularly sold to these [Man- 
chester] manufacturers as slaves are sold to the cotton-grower 
in the United States In 1860, 'the cotton trade was 

1 John Ward: "The Borough of Stoke-upon-Trent," London, 1843, 
p. 42. 

2 Ferrand's Speech in the House of Commons, 27th April, 1863. 

8 "Those were the very words used by the cotton manufacturers,' 1 
I. c. 


at its zenith. 1 .... The manufacturers again found that 
they were short of hands. . . . They applied to the * flesh 
agents,' as they are called. Those agents sent to the southern 
downs of England, to the pastures of Dorsetshire, to the glades 
of Devonshire, to the people tending kine in Wiltshire, but they 
sought in vain. The surplus-population was absorbed.'" The 
Bury Guardian said, on the completion of the French treaty, that 
"10,000 additional hands could be absorbed by Lancashire, and 
that 30,000 or 40,000 will be needed." After the "flesh agents and 
sub-agents" had in vain sought through the agricultural districts, 
"a deputation came up to London, and waited on the right hon. 
gentleman [Mr. Villiers, President of the Poor Law Board] with 
a view of obtaining poor children from certain union houses 
for the mills of Lancashire." * 

1 1. c. Mr. Villiers, despite the best of intentions on his part, was "le- 
gally" obliged to refuse the requests of the manufacturers. These gentle- 
men, however, attained their end through the obliging nature of the local 
poor law boards. Mr. A. Redgrave, Inspector of Factories, asserts that this 
time the system under which orphans and pauper children were treated 
"legally" as apprentices "was not accompanied with the old abuses" (on these 
"abuses" see Engels. 1. c), although in one case there certainly was "abuse 
of this system in respect to a number of girls and young women brought from 
the agricultural districts of Scotland into Lancashire and Cheshire." Under 
this system the manufacturer entered into a contract with the workhouse 
authorities for a certain period. He fed, clothed, and lodged the children, 
and gave them a small allowance of money. A remark of Mr. Redgrave to be 
quoted directly seems strange, especially if we consider that even among 
the years of prosperity of the English cotton trade, the year 1860 stands un- 
paralleled, and that, besides, wages were exceptionally high For this ex- 
traordinary demand for work had to contend with the depopulation of 
Ireland, with unexampled emigration from the English and Scotch agricul- 
tural districts to Australia and America, with an actual diminution of the 
population in some of the English agricultural districts, in consequence 
partly of an actual breakdown of the vital force of the labourers, partly 
of the already effected dispersion of the disposable population through the 
dealers in human flesh. Despite all this Mr. Redgrave says: "This kind of 
labour, however, would only be sought after when none other could be pro- 
cured, for it is a high-priced labour The ordinary wages of a boy of 13 would 
be about 4s. per week, but to lodge, to clothe, to feed, and to provide 
medical attendance and proper superintendence for 50 or 100 of these boys, 
and to set aside some remuneration for them, could not be accomplished 
for 4s. a-head per week." (Report of the Inspector of Factories for 30th April, 
1860, p 27.) Mr Redgrave forgets to tell us how the labourer himself can 
do all this for his children out of their 4s. a-week wages, when the manufac- 
turer cannot do it lor the 50 or 100 children lodged, boarded, superintended 
all together. To guard against false conclusions from the text, 1 ought here 
to remark that the English cotton industry, since it was placed under the 
Factory Act of 1850 with its regulations of labour-time, &c, must be regarded 
as the model industry of England. The English cotton operative is in every 


What experience shows to the capitalist genarally is a con- 
stant excess of population, i.e., an excess in relation to the 
momentary requirements of surplus-labour-absorbing capital, 
although this excess is made up of generations of human beings 
stunted, short-lived, swiftly replacing each other, plucked, so 
to say, before maturity. 1 And, indeed, experience shows to the 
intelligent observer with what swiftness and grip the capitalist 
mode of production, dating, historically speaking, only from 
yesterday, has seized the vital power of the people by the very 
root — shows how the degeneration of the industrial population 
is only retarded by the constant absorption of primitive and 
physically uncorrupted elements from the country— shows how 
even the country labourers, in spite of fresh air and the princi- 
ple of natural selection, that works so powerfully amongst them, 
and only permits the survival of the strongest, are already be- 
ginning to die off. 2 Capital that has such good reasons for 
denying the sufferings of the legions of workers that surround 
it, is in practice moved as much and as little by the sight of 
the coming degradation and final depopulation of the human 
race, as by the probable fall of the earth into the sun. In every 

respect better off than his Continental companion in misery. "The Prussian 
factory operative labours at least ten hours per week more than his English 
competitor, and if employed at his own loom in his own house, his labour 
is not restricted to even those additional hours." ("Rep. of Insp. of Fact.," 
31st October, 1855, p. 103.) Redgrave, the Factory Inspector mentioned 
above, after the Industrial Exhibition in 1851, travelled on the Continent, 
especially in France and Germany, for the purpose of inquiring into the 
conditions of the factories. Of the Prussian operative he says: "He receives 
a remuneration sufficient to procure the simple fare, and to supply the slender 
comforts to which he has been accustomed ... he lives upon his coarse fare, 
and works hard, wherein his position is subordinate to that of the English 
operative." ("Rep. of Insp. of Fact.," 31st Oct., 1855, p. 85.) 

1 The over-worked "die off with strange rapidity; but the places of 
those who perish are instantly filled, and a frequent change of persons makes 
no alteration in the scene." ("England and America." London, 1833, vol. I, 
p. 55. By E. G. Wakefield.) 

2 See "Public Health. Sixth Report of the Medical Officer of the Privy 
Council, 1863." Published in London 1864. This report deals especially with 
the agricultural labourers. "Sutherland ... is commonly represented as a 
highly improved county ... but ... recent inquiry has discovered that even 
there, in districts once famous for fine men and gallant soldiers, the inhabi- 
tants have degenerated into a meagre and stunted race. In the healthiest 
situations, on hill sides fronting the sea, the faces of their famished children 
are as pale as they could be in the foul atmosphere of a London alley. 
(W. Th. Thornton. "Over-population and its Remedy." 1. c, pp. 74, 75.) 
They resemble in fact the 30,000 "gallant Highlanders" whom Glasgow pigs 
together in its wynds and closes, with prostitutes and thieves. 


stock-jobbing swindle every one knows that some time or other 
the crash must come, but every one hopes that it may fall on 
the head of his neighbour, after he himself has caught the 
shower of gold and placed it in safety. Apres moi le deluge! is 
the watchword of every capitalist and of every capitalist 
nation. Hence Capital is reckless of the health or length of 
life of the labourer, unless under compulsion from society. 1 To 
the out-cry as to the physical and mental degradation, the pre- 
mature death, the torture of over-work, it answers: Ought these 
to trouble us since they increase our profits? But looking at 
things as a whole, all this does not, indeed, depend on the good 
or ill will of the individual capitalist. Free competition brings 
out the inherent laws of capitalist production, in the shape of 
external coercive laws having power over every individual 
capitalist. 2 

The establishment of a normal working-day is the result of 
centuries of struggle between capitalist and labourer. The 
history of this struggle shows two opposed tendencies. Com- 
pare, e.g. j the English factory legislation of our time with the 

1 "But though the health of a population is so important a fact of the 
national capital, we are afraid it must be said that the class of employers of 

labour have not been the most forward to guard and cherish this treasure 

The consideration of the health of theoperatives was forced upon themill-own- 
ers." (Times, November 5th, 1861.) "The men of the West Riding became 
the clothiers of mankind ... the health of the workpeople was sacrificed, and 
the race in a few generations must have degenerated. But a reaction set in. 
Lord Shaftesbury's Bill limited the hours of children's labour," &c. ("Report 
of the Registrar-General." for October 1861.) 

2 We, therefore, find, e.g., that in the beginning of 1863, 26 firms 
owning extensive potteries in Staffordshire, amongst others, Josiah Wedg- 
wood, & Sons, petition in a memorial for "some legislative enactment." 
Competition with other capitalists permits them no voluntary limitation 
of working-time for children, &c. "Much as we deplore the evils before men- 
tioned, it would not be possible to prevent them by any scheme of agreement 
between the manufacturers.... Taking all these points into consideration, we 
have come to the conviction that some legislative enactment is wanted." 
("Children's Employment Comm." Rep. 1., 1863, p. 322.) Most recently a 
much more striking example offers. The rise in the price of cotton during a 
period of feverish activity, had induced the manufacturers in Blackburn to 
shorten, by mutual consent, the working-time in their mills during a cer- 
tain fixed period. This period terminated about the end of November, 1871. 
Meanwhile, the wealthier manufacturers, who combined spinning with 
weaving, used the diminution of production resulting from this agreement, 
to extend their own business and thus to make great profits at the expense of 
the small employers. The latter thereupon turned in their extremity to the 
operatives, urs^ed them earnestly to agitate for the 9 hours' system, 
and promised contributions in money to this end. 


English Labour Statutes from the 14th century to well into 
the middle of the 18th. l Whilst the modern Factory Acts com- 
pulsorily shortened the working-day, the earlier statutes tried 
to lengthen it by compulsion. Of course the pretensions of 
capital in embryo— when, beginning to grow, it secures the 
right of absorbing a quantum sufficit of surplus-labour, not 
merely by the force of economic relations, but by the help of 
the State— appear very modest when put face to face with the 
concessions that, growling and struggling, it has to make in its 
adult condition. It takes centuries ere the "free" labourer, 
thanks to the development of capitalistic production, agrees, 
i.e., is compelled by social conditions, to sell the whole of his 
active life, his very capacity for work, for the price of the 
necessaries of life, his birthright for a mess of pottage. Hence 
it is natural that the lengthening of the working-day, which 
capital, from the middle of the 14th to the end of the 17th 
century, tries to impose by State-measures on adult labourers, 
approximately coincides with the shortening of the working- 
day which", in the second half of the 19th century, has here and 
there been effected by the State to prevent the coining of 
children's blood into capital. That which to-day, e.g., in the 
State of Massachusetts, until recently the freest State of the 
North-American Republic, has been proclaimed as the statutory 
limit of the labour of children under 12, was in England, even 
in the middle of the 17th century, the normal working-day of 
able-bodied artisans, robust labourers, athletic blacksmiths. 2 

1 The Labour Statutes, the like of which were enacted at the same time 
in France, the Netherlands, and elsewhere, were first formally repealed in 
England in 1813, long after the changes in methods of production had ren- 
dered them obsolete. 

2 "No child under 12 years of age shall be employed in any manufactur- 
ing establishment more than 10 hours in one day." General Statutes of Mas- 
sachusetts, 63, ch. 12. (The various Statutes were passed between 1836 and 
1858.) "Labour performed during a period of 10 hours on any day in all cotton, 
woollen, silk, paper, glass, and flax factories, or in manufactories of iron and 
brass, shall be considered a legal day's labour. And be it enacted, that here- 
after no minor engaged in any factory shall be holden or required to work 
more than 10 hours in any day. or 60 hours in any week; and that hereafter no 
minor shall be admitted as a worker under the age of 10 years in any factory 
within this State." State of New Jersey. An Act to limit the hours of labour, 
&c, § 1 and 2. (Law of 18th March, 1851.) "No minor who has attained the 
age of 12 years, and is under the age of 15 years, shall be employed in any 
manufacturing establishment more than 11 hours in any one day, nor before 
5 o'clock in the morning, nor after 7.30 in the evening " ("Revised Statutes 
of the State of Rhode Island," &c, ch. 139, § 23, 1st July, 1857.) 


The first "Statute of Labourers" (23 Edward III., 1349) 
found its immediate pretext (not its cause, for legislation of 
this kind lasts centuries after the pretext for it has disappeared) 
in the great plague that decimated the people, so that, as a Tory 
writer says, "The difficulty of getting men to work on reason- 
able terms (i.e., at a price that left their employers a reasonable 
quantity of surplus-labour) grew to such a height as to be quite 
intolerable." 1 Reasonable wages were, therefore, fixed by law 
as well as the limits of the working-day. The latter point, the 
only one that here interests us, is repeated in the Statute of 
1496 (Henry VII.). The working-day for all artificers and 
field labourers from March to September ought, according to 
this statute (which, however, could not be enforced), to last from 
5 in the morning to between 7 and 8 in the evening. But the 

meal-times consist of 1 hour for breakfast, ly hours for dinner, 

and — an hour for "noon-meate," i.e., exactly twice as much as 

under the factory acts now in force. 2 In winter, work was to 
last from 5 in the morning until dark, with the same intervals. 
A statute of Elizabeth of 1562 leaves the length of the work- 
ing-day for all labourers "hired for daily or weekly wage" un- 

touched, but aims at limiting the intervals to 2y hours in the 

summer, or to 2 in the winter. Dinner is only to last 1 hour, 
and the "afternoon-sleep of half an hour" is only allowed 
between the middle of May and the middle of August. For 
every hour of absence Id. is to be subtracted from the wage. 
In practice, however, the conditions were much more favourable 
to the labourers than in the statute-book. William Petty, the 

1 "Sophisms of Free Trade." 7th Ed. London, 1850, p. 205, 9th Ed., 
p. 253. This same Tory, moreover, admits that "Acts of Parliament regulating 
wages, but against the labourer and in favour of the master, lasted for the 
long period of 464 years. Population grew. These laws were then found, 
and really became, unnecessary and burdensome." (I. c, p. 206.) 

2 In reference to this statute, J. Wade with truth remarks: "From tht 
statement above (i.e., with regard to the statute) it appears that in 1496 
the diet was considered equivalent to one-third of the income of an arti- 
ficer and one-half the income of a labourer, which indicates a greater degree 
of independence among the working-classes than prevails at present; for the 
board, both of labourers and artificers, would now be reckoned at a much 
higher proportion of their wages." (J. Wade, "History of the Middle and 
Working Classes," pp. 24, 25, and 577.) The opinion that this difference is due 
to the difference in the price-relations between food and clothing then and 
now is refuted by the most cursory glance at "Chronicon Preciosum, &c." 
By Bishop Fleetwood. 1st Ed., London, 1707; 2nd Ed., London, 1745. 


father of Political Economy, and to some extent the founder of 
Statistics, says in a work that he published in the last third of 
the 17th century: "Labouring-men (then meaning field-labourers) 
work 10 hours per diem, and make 20 meals per week, viz., 3 
a day for working-days, and 2 on Sundays; whereby it is plain, 
that if they could fast on Friday nights, and dine in one hour 
and an half, whereas they take two, from eleven to one; thereby 

1 1 

thus working ^ more, and spending kk less, the above-men- 
tioned (tax) might be raised." 1 Was not Dr. Andrew Ure right 
in crying down the 12 hours' bill of 1833 as a retrogression to 
the times of the dark ages? It is true, these regulations con- 
tained in the statute mentioned by Petty, apply also to ap- 
prentices. E}ut the condition of child-labour, even at the end 
of the 17th century, is seen from the following complaint: 
'"Tis not their practice (in Germany) as with us in this king- 
dom, to bind an apprentice for seven years; three or four is 
their common standard: and the reason is, because they are 
educated from their cradle to something of employment, which 
renders them the more apt and docile, and consequently the more 
capable of attaining to a ripeness and quicker proficiency in 
business. Whereas our youth, here in England, being bred to 
nothing before they come to be apprentices, make a very slow 
progress and require much longer time wherein to reach the 
perfection of accomplished artists." 2 

1 W. Petty, "Political Anatomy of Ireland, Verbum Sapienti," 1672, 
Ed. 1691, p. 10. 

2 "A Discourse on the necessity of encouraging Mechanick Industry," 
London, 1690, p. 13. Macaulay, who has falsified English history in the 
interests of the Whigs and the bourgeoisie, declares as follows: "The practice 
of setting children prematurely to work ... prevailed in the 17th century to 
an extent which, when compared with the extent of the manufacturing system, 
seems almost incredible. At Norwich, the chief seat of the clothing trade, a 
little creature of six years old was thought fit for labour. Several writers of 
that time, and among them some who were considered as eminently benevo- 
lent, mention with exultation the fact that in that single city, boys and 
girls of very tender age create wealth exceeding what was necessary for 
their own subsistence by twelve thousand pounds a year. The more carefully 
we examine the history of the past, the more reason shall we find to dissent 
from those who imagine that our age has been fruitful of new social evils. ... 
That which is new is the intelligence and the humanity which remedies them." 
("History of England," vol. I., p. 417.) Macaulay might have reported- fur- 
ther that "extremely well-disposed" amis du commerce in the 17th century, 
narrate with "exultation" how in a poorhouse in Holland a child of four was 
employed, and that this example of "vertu mise en pratique" passes muster in 
all the humanitarian works, a la Macaulay, -to the time of Adam Smith. It 


Still, during the greater part of the 18th century, up to the 
epoch of Modern Industry and machinism, capital in England 
had not succeeded in seizing for itself, by the payment of the 
weekly value of labour-power, the whole week of the labourer, 
with the exception, however, of the agricultural labourers. 
The fact that they could live for a whole week on the wage of 
four days, did not appear to the labourers a sufficient reason 
that they should work the other two days for the capitalist. 
One party of English economists, in the interest of capital, de- 
nounces this obstinacy in the most violent manner, another 
party defends the labourers. Let us listen, e.g., to the contest 
between Postlethwayt whose Dictionary of Trade then had the 
same reputation as the kindred works of MacCulloch and 
MacGregor to-day, and the author (already quoted) of the "Essay 
on Trade and Commerce." 1 

Postlethwayt says among other things: "We cannot put an 
end to those few observations, without noticing that trite re- 
mark in the mouth of too many; that if the industrious poor 
can obtain enough to maintain themselves in five days, they 
will not work the whole six. Whence they infer the necessity 
of even the necessaries of life being made dear by taxes, or any 
other means, to compel the working artisan and manufacturer 
to labour the whole six days in the week, without ceasing. 

is true that with the substitution of manufacture for handicrafts, traces 
of the exploitation of children begin to appear. This exploitation existed 
always to a certain extent among peasants, and was the more developed, the 
heavier the yoke pressing on the husbandman. The tendency of capital is 
there unmistakably; but the facts themselves are still as isolated as the phe- 
nomena of two-headed children. Hence they were noted "with exultation" 
as especially worthy of remark and as wonders by the far-seeing "amis du 
bommeree" and recommended as models for their own time and for posterity. 
This same Scotch sycophant and fine talker, Macaulay, says: "We hear to-day 
only of retrogression and see only progress." What eyes, and especially what 

1 Among the accusers of the workpeople, the most angry is the anony- 
mous author quoted in the text of "An Essay on Trade and Commerce, con- 
taining Observations on Taxes, &c," London, 1770. He had already dealt 
with this subject in his earlier work: "Considerations on Taxes." London, 
1765. On the same side follows Polonius Arthur Young, the unutterable sta- 
tistical prattler. Among the defenders of the working-classes the foremost are: 
Jacob Vanderlint, in: "Money Answers all Things." London, 1734; the Rev. 
Nathaniel Forster, D. D., in "An Enquiry into the Causes of the Present 
High Price of Provisions," London, 1767; Dr. Price, and especially Postleth- 
wayt, as well in the supplement to his "Universal Dictionary of Trade and 
Commerce," as in his "Great Britain's Commercial Interest explained and 
improved." 2nd Edition, 1755. The facts themselves are confirmed by many 
other writers of the time, amorig others by Josiah Tucker. 


I must beg leave to differ in sentiment from those great 
politicians, who contend for the perpetual slavery of the work- 
ing people of this kingdom; they forget the vulgar adage, all 
work and no play. Have not the English boasted of the in- 
genuity and dexterity of her working artists and manufacturers 
which have heretofore given credit and reputation to British 
wares in general? What has this been owing to? To nothing 
more probably than the relaxation of the working people in 
their own way. Were they obliged to toil the year round, the 
whole six days in the week, in a repetition of the same work, 
might it not blunt their ingenuity, and render them stupid in- 
stead of alert and dexterous; and might not our workmen lose 
their reputation instead of maintaining it by such eternal 
slavery? .... And what sort of workmanship could we ex- 
pect from such hard-driven animals? .... Many of them 
will execute as much work in four days as a Frenchman will in 
five or six. But if Englishmen are to be eternal drudges, 'tis 
to be feared they will degenerate below the Frenchmen. As 
our people are famed for bravery in war, do we not say that it 
is owing to good English roast beef and pudding in their bellies, 
as well as their constitutional spirit of liberty? And why may 
not the superior ingenuity and dexterity of our artists and 
manufacturers, be owing to that freedom and liberty to direct 
themselves in their own way, and I hope we shall never have 
them deprived of such privileges and that good living from 
whence their ingenuity no less than their courage may pro- 
ceed." 1 Thereupon the author of the "Essay on Trade and 
Commerce" replies: "If the making of every seventh day an 
holiday is supposed to be of divine institution, as it implies 
the appropriating the other six days to labour" (he means cap- 
ital as we shall soon see) "surely it will not be thought 
cruel to enforce it ... . That mankind in general, are 
naturally inclined to ease and indolence, we fatally experience 
to be true, from the conduct of our manufacturing populace, 
who do not labour, upon an average, above four days in a week, 

unless provisions happen to be very dear Put all the 

necessaries of the poor under one denomination; for instance, 
call them all wheat, or suppose that. . . .the bushel of wheat 
shall cost five shillings and that he (a manufacturer) earns a 
shilling by his labour, he then would be obliged to work 
five days only in a week. If the bushel of wheat should cost 

1 Postlethwayt, 1. c, "First Preliminary Discourse," p 14. 


but four shillings, he would be obliged to work but four days; 
but as wages in this kingdom are much higher in proportion to 
the price of necessaries. . . . the manufacturer, who labours four 
days, has a surplus of money to live idle with the rest of the 
week .... I hope I have said enough to make it appear 
that the moderate labour of six days in a week is no slavery. 
Our labouring people do this, and to all appearance are the hap- 
piest of all our labouring poor, l but the Dutch do this in 
manufactures, and appear to be a very happy people. The 
French do so, when holidays do not intervene. 2 But our popu- 
lace have adopted a notion, that as Englishmen they enjoy a 
birthright privilege of being more free and independent than 
in any country in Europe. Now this idea, as far as it may 
affect the bravery of our troops, may be of some use; but the 
less the manufacturing poor have of it, certainly the better for 
themselves and for the State. The labouring people should 

never think themselves independent of their superiors 

It is extremely dangerous to encourage mobs in a commercial 
state like ours, where, perhaps, seven parts out of eight of the 
whole, are people with little or no property. The cure will 
not be perfect, till our manufacturing poor are contented to 
labour six days for the same sum which they now earn in four 
days." 3 To this end, and for "extirpating idleness, debauchery 
and excess," promoting a spirit of industry, "lowering the price 
of labour in our manufactories, and easing the lands of the 
heavy burden of poor's rates," our "faithful Eckart" of capital 
proposes this approved device: to shut up such labourers as 
become dependent on public support, in a word, paupers, in "an 
ideal workhouse." Such ideal workhouse must be made a 
"House of Terror," and not an asylum for the poor, "where they 
are to be plentifully fed, warmly and decently clothed, and where 
they do but little work." 4 In this "House of Terror," this 
"ideal workhouse, the poor shall work 14 hours in a day, al- 

1 "An Essay," &c. He himself relates on p. 96 wherein the "happiness" 
of the English agricultural labourer already in 1770 consisted. "Their powers 
are always upon the stretch, they cannot live cheaper than they do, nor work 

2 Protestantism, by changing almost all the traditional holidays into 
workdays, plays an important part in the genesis of capital. 

3 "An Essay," &c, pp. 15, 41, 96, 97, 55, 57, 69.— Jacob Vanderlint, 
as early as 1734, declared that the secret of the out-cry of the capitalists a.s 
to the laziness of the working people was simply that they claimed for the 
same wages 6 days' labour instead of 4. 

4 1. c, p. 242. 


lowing proper time for meals, in such manner that there shall 
remain 12 hours of neat-labour." 1 

Twelve working-hours daily in the Ideal Workhouse, in the 
"House of Terror" of 1770! 63 years later, in 1833, when the 
English Parliament reduced the working-day for children of 
13 to 18, in four branches of industry to 12 full hours, the 
judgment day of English Industry had dawned! In 1852, 
when Louis Bonaparte sought to secure his position with the 
bourgeoisie by tampering with the legal working-day, the 
French people cried out with one voice "the law that limits 
the working-day to 12 hours is the one good that has remained 
to us of the legislation of the Republic!" 2 At Zurich the work 
of children over 10, is limited to 12 hours; in Aargau in 1862, 
the work of children between 13 and 16, was reduced from 

12-^- to 12 hours; in Austria in 1860, for children between 14 

and 16, the same reduction was made. 3 "What a progress," since 
1770! Macaulay would shout with exultation! 

The "House of Terror" for paupers of which the capitalistic 
soul of 1770 only dreamed, was realised a few years later in the 
shape of a gigantic "Workhouse" for the industrial worker him- 
self. It is called the Factory. And the ideal this time fades before 
the reality. 

1 1. c. "The French," he says, "laugh at our enthusiastic ideas of liber- 
ty." I. c, p. 78. 

2 "They especially objected to work beyond the 12 hours per day, 
because the law which fixed those hours, is the only good which remains 
to 'them of the legislation of the Republic." ("Rep. of (nsp. of Fact.," 31st 
October, 1856, p. 80.) The French Twelve Hours' Bill of September 5th, 
1850, a bourgeois edition of the decree of the Provisional Government of 
March 2nd, 1848, holds in all workshops without exceptions. Before this 
law the working-day in France was without definite limit. Tt lasted in the 
factories 14, 15, or more hours. See "Des classes ouvrieres en France, pendant 
l'annee 1848. Par M. Blanqui." M. Blanqui the economist, not the Revolu- 
tionist, had been entrusted by the Government with an inquiry into the 
condition of the working-class. 

3 Belgium is the model bourgeois state in regard to the regulation ot 
the working-day. Lord Howard of Welden, English Plenipotentiary at Brus- 
sels, reports to the Foreign Office, May 12th, 1862: "M. Rogier, the minister, 
informed me that children's labour is limited neither by a general law nor 
by any local regulations; that the Government, during the last three years, 
intended in every session to propose a bill on the subject, but always found 
an insuperable obstacle in the jealous opposition to any legislation in con- 
tradiction with the principle of perfect freedom of labour." 





After capital had taken centuries in extending the working- 
day to its normal maximum limit, and then beyond this to the 
limit of the natural day of 12 hours, 1 there followed on the 
birth of machinism and modern industry in the last third of 
the 18th century, a violent encroachment like that of an 
avalanche in its intensity and extent. All bounds of morals 
and nature, age and sex, day and night, were broken down. 
Even the ideas of day and night, of rustic simplicity in the old 
statutes, became so confused that an English judge, as late as 
1860, needed a quite Talmudic sagacity to explain "judicially" 
what was day and what was night. 2 Capital celebrated its 

As soon as the working-class, stunned at first by the noise 
and turmoil of the new system of production, recovered, in 
some measure, its senses, its resistance began, and first in the 
native land of machinism, in England. For 30 years, however, 
the concessions conquered by the workpeople were purely 
nominal. Parliament passed 5 Labour Laws between 1802 and 
1833, but was shrewd enough not to vote a penny for their car- 
rying out, for the requisite officials, &c. 3 

1 "It is certainly much to be regretted that any class of persons should 
toil 12 hours a day, which, including the time for their meals and for going 
to and returning from their work, amounts, in fact, to 14 of the 24 hours.... 
Without entering into the question of health, no one will hesitate, I think, 
to admit that, in a moral point of view, so entire an absorption of the time 
of the working-classes, without intermission, from the early age of 13, and 
in trades not subject to restriction, much younger, must be extremely pre- 
judicial, and is an evil greatly to be deplored.... For the sake, therefore, of 
public morals, of bringing up an orderly population, and of giving the great 
body of the people a reasonable enjoyment of life, it is much to be desired 
that in all trades some portion of every working-day should be reserved for 
rest and leisure." (Leonard Horner in "Reports of Insp. of Fact, for 31st Dec, 

2 See "Judgment of Mr. J. H. Otway, Belfast. Hilary Sessions, County 
Antrim, 1860." 

3 It is very characteristic of the regime of Louis Philippe, the bourgeois 
king, that the one Factory Act passed during his reign, that of March 22nd, 
1841, was never put in force. And this law only dealt with child-labour. 
It fixed 8 hours a day for children between 8 and 12, 12 hours for children 
between 12 and 16, &c, with many exceptions which allow night-work even 
for children 8 years old. The supervision and enforcement of this law are, 
in a country where every mouse is under police administration, left to the 
good-will of the amis du commerce. Only since 1853, in one single department — 


They remained a dead Letter. "The fact is, that prior to the 
Act of 1833, young persons and children were worked all night, 
all day, or both ad libitum." 1 

A normal working-day for modern industry only dates from 
the Factory Act of 1833, which included cotton, wool, flax, and 
silk factories. Nothing is more characteristic of the spirit of 
capital than the history of the English Factory Acts from 1833 
to 1864. 

The Act of 1833 declares the ordinary factory working-day to 
be from half-past five in the morning to half-past eight in the 
evening, and within these limits, a period of 15 hours, it is law- 
ful to employ young persons (i.e., persons between 13 and 18 years 
of age), at any time of the day, provided no one individual 
young person should work more than 12 hours in any one day, 
except in certain cases especially provided for. The 6th section 
of the Act provided: "That there shall be allowed in the course 
of every day not less than one and a half hours for meals to 
every such person restricted as hereinbefore provided." The 
employment of children under 9, with exceptions mentioned 
later, was forbidden; the work of children between 9 and 13 
was limited to 8 hours a day, night-work, i.e., according to this 
Act, work between 8.30 p. m. and 5.30 a. m., was forbidden for 
all persons between 9 and 18. 

The law-makers were so far from wishing to trench on the 
freedom of capital to exploit adult labour-power, or, as they 
called it, "the freedom of labour," that they created a special 
system in order to prevent the Factory Acts from having a con- 
sequence so outrageous. 

"The great evil of the factory system as at present con- 
ducted," says the first report of the Central Board of the Com- 
mission of June 28th, 1833, "has appeared to us to be that it en- 
tails the necessity of continuing the labour of children to 
the utmost length of that of the adults. The only remedy for 
this evil, short of the limitation of the labour of adults, which 
would, in our opinion, create an evil greater than that which is 
sought to be remedied, appears to be the plan of working 
double sets -of children." . . . Under the name of System 
of Relays, this "plan" was therefore carried out, so that, e.g., 

the Departement du Nord— has a paid government inspector been appoint- 
ed. Not less characteristic of the development of French society, generally, 

the fact, that Louis Philippe's law stood solitary among the all-em- 

icing mass of French laws, till the Revolution of 1848. 
i ^Report of Tnsp. of Fact.," 30th April, 1860, p. 50. 



from 5.30 a. m. until 1.30 in the afternoon, one set of children 
between 9 and 13, and from 1.30 p. m. to 8.30 in the evening 
another set were "put to," &c. 

In order to reward the manufacturers for having, in the 
most barefaced way, ignored all the Acts as to children's labour 
passed during the last twenty-two years, the pill was yet 
further gilded for them. Parliament decreed that after March 
1st, 1834, no child under 11, after March 1st, 1835, no child. un- 
der 12, and after March 1st, 1836, no child under 13, was to 
work more than eight hours in a factory. This "liberalism," 
so full of consideration for "capital," was the more noteworthy 
as, Dr. Farre, Sir A. Carlisle, Sir B. Brodie, Sir G. Bell, Mr. 
Guthrie, &c, in a word, the most distinguished physicians and 
surgeons in London, had declared in their evidence before 
the House of Commons, that there was danger in delay. 
Dr. Farre expressed himself still more coarsely. "Legisla- 
tion is necessary for the prevention of death, in any form in 
which it can be prematurely inflicted, and certainly this (i.e., 
the factory method) must be viewed as a most cruel mode of 
inflicting it." 

That same "reformed" Parliament, which in its delicate con- 
sideration for the manufacturers, condemned children under 13, 
for years to come, to 72 hours of work per week in the Factory 
Hell, on the other hand, in the Emancipation Act, which also 
administered freedom drop by drop, forbade the planters, from 
the outset, to work any negro slave more than 45 hours a week. 

But in no wise conciliated, capital now began a noisy agita- 
tion that went on for several years. It turned chiefly on the age of 
those who, under the name of children, were limited to 8 hours' 
work, and were subject to a certain amount of compulsory 
education. According to capitalistic anthropology, the age of 
childhood ended at 10, or at the outside, at 11. The more 
nearly the time approached for the coming into full force of 
the Factory Act, the fatal year 1836, the more wildly raged 
the mob of manufacturers. They managed, in fact, to intimidate 
the government to such an extent that in 1835 it proposed to 
lower the limit of the age of childhood from 13 to 12. In the 
meantime the pressure from without grew more threatening. 
Courage failed the House of Commons. It refused to throw chil- 
dren of 13 under the Juggernaut Car of capital for more than 
8 hours a day, and the Act of 1833 came into full operation. It 
remained unaltered until June, 1844. 

In the ten years during which it regulated factory work, 


first in part, and then entirely, the official reports of the factory 
inspectors teem with complaints as to the impossibility of 
putting the Act into force. As the law of 1833 left it optional 
with the lords of capital during the 15 hours, from 5.30 a. m. to 
8.30 p. m., to make every "young person," and "every child" 
begin, break off, resume, or end his 12 or 8 hours at any mo- 
ment they liked, and also permitted them to assign to dif- 
ferent persons, different times for meals, these gentlemen 
soon discovered a new "system of relays," by which the labour- 
horses were not changed at fixed stations, but were constantly 
re-harnessed at changing stations. We do not pause longer on 
the beauty of this system, as we shall have to return to it later. 
But this much is clear at the first glance: that this system 
annulled the whole Factory Act, not only in the spirit, but in 
the letter. How could factory inspectors, with this complex 
book-keeping in respect to each individual child or young 
person, enforce the legally determined work-time and the 
granting of the legal meal-times? In a great many of the 
factories, the old brutalities soon blossomed out again un- 
punished. In an interview with the Home Secretary (1844), 
the factory inspectors demonstrated the impossibility of any 
control under the newly invented relay system. * In the mean- 
time, however, circumstances had greatly changed. The factory 
hands, especially since 1838, had made the Ten Hours' Bill their 
economic, as they had made the Charter their political, 
election-cry. Some of the manufacturers, even, who had man- 
aged their factories in conformity with the Act of 1833, 
overwhelmed Parliament with memorials on the immoral com- 
petition of their false brethren whom greater impudence, or 
more fortunate local circumstances, enabled to break the law. 
Moreover, however much the individual manufacturer might 
give the rein to his old lust for gain, the spokesmen and 
political leaders of the manufacturing class ordered a change 
of front and of speech towards the workpeople. They had 
entered upon the contest for the repeal of the Corn Laws, and 
needed the workers to help them to victory. They promised, 
therefore, not only a double-sized loaf of bread, but the enact- 
ment of the Ten Hours' Bill in the Free-trade millennium. 2 Thus 
they still less dared to oppose a measure intended only to make 
the law of 1833 a reality. Threatened in thier holiest interest, 

1 "Rept. of Insp. of Fact.," 31st October, 1849, p. 6. 

2 "Rept. of Insp. of Fact.," 31st October, 1848, p. 98. 


the rent of land, the Tories thundered with philanthropic in- 
dignation against the "nefarious practices" 1 of their foes. 

This was the origin of the additional Factory Act of June 
7th, 1844. It came into effect on September lbth, 1844. It 
places under protection a new category of workers, viz., the 
women over 18. They were placed in every respect on the 
same footing as the young persons, their work-time limited to 
twelve hours, their night-labour forbidden, &c. For the first 
time, legislation saw itself compelled to control directly and 
officially the labour of adults. In the Factory Report of 1844- 
1845, it is said with irony: "No instances have come to my 
knowledge of adult women having expressed any regret at 
their rights being thus far interfered with." 2 The working-time 

of children under 13 was reduced to 6y, and in certain circum- 
stances to 7 hours a-day. 3 

To get rid of the abuses of the "spurious relay system," the 
law established besides others the following important regula- 
tions: — "That the hours of work of children and young persons 
shall be reckoned from the time when any child or young per- 
son shall begin to work in the morning." So that if A, e.g., be- 
gins work at 8 in the morning, and B at 10, B's work-day must 
nevertheless end at the same hour as A's. "The time shall be reg- 
ulated by a public clock," for example, the nearest railway clock, 
by which the factory clock is to be set. The occupier is to hang 
up a "legible" printed notice stating the hours for the beginning 
and ending of work and the times allowed for the several meals. 
Children beginning work before 12 noon may not be again em- 
ployed after 1 p. m. The afternoon shift must therefore consist 
of other children than those employed in the morning. Of the hour 
and a half for meal-times, "one hour thereof at the least shall 
be given before three of the clock in the afternoon. . . . and 
at the same period of the day. No child or young person shall 
be employed more than five hours before 1 p. m. without an in- 
terval for meal-time of at least 30 minutes. No child or young 
person [or female] shall be employed or allowed to remain in any 
room in which any manufacturing process is then [i.e., at meal- 
times] carried on," &c. 

1 Leonard Horner uses the expression "nefarious practices" in his 
official reports. ("Report of Insp. of Fact.," 31st October, 1859, p. 7.) 

2 "Rept.," &c, 30th Sept., 1844, p. 15. 

8 The Act allows children to be employed for 10 hours if they do not 
work day after day, but only on alternate days. In the main, this clause re- 
mained inoperative. 


It has been seen that these minutiae, which, with military 
uniformity, regulate by stroke of the clock the times, limits, 
pauses of the work, were not at all the products of Parliamen- 
tary fancy. They developed gradually out of circum- 
stances as natural laws of the modern mode of production. 
Their formulation, official recognition, and proclamation by the 
State, were the result of a long struggle of classes. One of their 
first consequences was that in practice the working-day 
of the adult males in factories became subject to the same 
limitations, since in most processes of production the co-opera- 
tion of the children, young persons, and women is indispen- 
sable. On the whole, therefore, during the period from 1844 
to 1847, the 12 hours' working-day became general and 
uniform in all branches of industry under the Factory Act. 

The manufacturers, however, did not allow this "progress" 
without a compensating "retrogression." At their instigation 
the House of Commons reduced the minimum age for exploit- 
able children from 9 to 8, in order to assure that additional sup- 
ply of factory children which is due to capitalists, according to 
divine and human law. 1 

The years 1846-47 are epoch-making in the economic history 
of England. The Repeal of the Corn Laws, and of the duties 
on cotton and other raw material; Free-trade proclaimed as the 
guiding star of legislation; in a word, the arrival of the mil- 
lennium. On the other hand, in the same years, the Chartist 
movement and the 10 hours' agitation reached their highest 
point. They found allies in the Tories panting for revenge. 
Despite the fanatical opposition of the army of perjured Free- 
traders, with Bright and Cobden at their head, the Ten Hours' 
Bill, struggled for so long, went through Parliament. 

The new Factory Act of June 8th, 1847, enacted that on 
July 1st, 1847, there should be a preliminary shortening of the 
working-day for "young persons" (from 13 to 18), and all fe- 
males to 11 hours, but that on May 1st, 1848, there should be 
a definite limitation of the working-day to 10 hours. In other 
respects, the Act only amended and completed the Acts of 1833 
and 1844. 

Capital now entered upon a preliminary campaign in order 
to hinder the Act from coming into full force on May 1st, 1848. And 

1 "As a reduction in their hours of work would cause a larger number 
(of children) to be employed, it was thought that the additional supply 
of children from 8 to 9 years of age would meet the increased demand" 
(1. c, p. 13). 


the workers themselves, under the pretence that they had been 
taught by experience, were to help in the destruction of their 
own work. The moment was cleverly chosen. "It must be remem- 
bered, too, that there has been more than two years of great suf- 
fering (in consequence of the terrible crisis of 1846-47) among 
the factory operatives, from many mills having worked short 
time, and many being altogether closed. A considerable 
number of the operatives must therefore be in very narrow cir- 
cumstances; many, it is to be feared, in debt; so that it might 
fairly have been presumed that at the present time they would 
prefer working the longer time, in order to make up for past 
losses, perhaps to pay off debts, or get their furniture out of pawn, 
or replace that sold, or to get a new supply of clothes for them- 
selves and their families." 1 

The manufacturers tried to aggravate the natural effect of 
these circumstances by a general reduction of wages by 10%. 
This was done, so to say, to celebrate the inauguration of the 

new Free-trade era. Then followed a further reduction of 8-^-% 

as soon as the working-day was shortened to 11, and a reduc- 
tion of double that amount as soon as it was finally shortened 
to 10 hours. Wherever, therefore, circumstances allowed it, a 
reduction of wages of at least 25% took place. 2 Under such fa- 
vourably prepared conditions the agitation among the factory 
workers for the repeal of the Act of 1847 was begun. Neither 
lies, bribery, nor threats were spared in this attempt. But all 
was in vain. Concerning the half-dozen petitions in which 
workpeople were made to complain of "their oppression by the 
Act," the petitioners themselves declared under oral examina- 
tion, that their signatures had been extorted from them. "They 
felt themselves oppressed, but not exactly by the Factory Act." 3 
But if the manufacturers did not succeed in making the work- 
people speak as they wished, they themselves shrieked all the 
louder in press and Parliament in the name of the workpeople. 

1 "Rep. of Insp. of Fact.," 31st Oct., 1848, p. 16. 

2 "f found that men who had been getting 10s. a week, had had Is. 
taken off for a reduction in the rate of 10 per cent., and Is. 6d. off the re- 
maining 9s. for the reduction in time, together 2s. 6d., and notwithstand- 
ing this, many of them said they would rather work 10 hours." 1. c. 

' "'Though I signed it [the petition], I said at the time I was putting 
my hand to a wrong thing.' 'Then why did you put your hand to it?' 'Because 
I should have been turned off if I had refused.' Whence it would appear 
that this petitioner felt himself 'oppressed,' but not exactly by the Factory 
Act." I. c, p. 102. 


They denounced the Factory Inspectors as a kind of revolutionary 
commissioners like those of the French National Convention ruth- 
lessly sacrificing the unhappy factory workers to their humani- 
tarian crotchet. This manoeuvre also failed. Factory Inspector 
Leonard Horner conducted in his own person, and through his 
sub-inspectors, many examinations of witnesses in the factories 
of Lancashire. About 70% of the workpeople examined declared 
in favour of 10 hours, a much smaller percentage in favour of 11, 
and an altogether insignificant minority for the old 12 hours. 1 

Another "friendly" dodge was to make the adult males 
work 12 to 15 hours, and then to blazon abroad this fact as the 
best proof of what the proletariat desired in its heart of 
hearts. But the "ruthless" Factory Inspector Leonard Horner 
was again to the fore. The majority of the "over-timers" de- 
clared: "They would much prefer working ten hours for 
less wages, but that they had no choice; that so many were 
out of employment (so many spinners getting very low wages 
by having to work as piecers, being unable to do better), that 
if they refused to work the longer time, others would immedi- 
ately get their places, so that it was a question with them of 
agreeing to work the longer time, or of being thrown out of em- 
ployment altogether." 2 

The preliminary campaign of capital thus came to grief, and 
the Ten Hours' Act came into force May 1st, 1848. But mean- 
while the fiasco of the Chartist party whose leaders were 
imprisoned, and whose organisation was dismembered, had 
shaken the confidence of the English working-class in its own 
strength. Soon after this the June insurrection in Paris and 
its bloody suppression united, in England as on the Continent, 
all fractions of the ruling classes, landlords and capitalists, 
stock-exchange wolves and shop-keepers, Protectionists and 
Free-traders, government and opposition, priests and freethink- 
ers, young whores and old nuns, under the common cry 
for the salvation of Property, Religion, the Family and 
Society. The working-class was everywhere proclaimed, 

1 p. 17, I. c. In Mr. Horner's district 10,270 adult male labourers were 
thus examined in 181 factories. Their evidence is to be found in the appendix 
to the Factory Reports for the half-year endi ng October 1848. These exami- 
nations furnish valuable material in other connexions also. 

* 1. c. See the evidence collected by Leonard Horner himself, Nos. 
69, 70, 71, 72, 92, 93, and that collected by Sub-Inspector A., Nos. 51, 52, 
58, 59, 62, 70, of the Appendix. One manufacturer, too, tells the plain 
truth. See No. 14, and No. 265, I. c. 


placed under a ban, under a virtual law of suspects. The 
manufacturers had no need any longer to restrain themselves. 
They broke out in open revolt not only against the Ten Hours' 
Act, but against the whole of the legislation that since 1833 
had aimed at restricting in some measure the "free" exploita- 
tion of labour-power. It was a pro-slavery rebellion in minia- 
ture, carried on for over two years with a cynical recklessness, 
a terrorist energy all the cheaper because the rebel capitalist 
risked nothing except the skin of his "hands." 

To understand that which follows we must remember that 
the Factory Acts of 1833, 1844, and 1847 were all three in 
force so far as the one did not amend the other: that not one 
of these limited the working-day of the male worker over 18, 
and that since 1833 the 15 hours from 5.30 a. m. to 8.30 p. m. 
had remained the legal "day," within the limits of which at 
first the 12, and later the 10 hours' labour of young persons and 
women had to be performed under the prescribed conditions. 

The manufacturers began by here and there discharging a 
part of, in many cases half of, the young persons and women 
employed by them, and then, for the adult males, restoring 
the almost obsolete night-work. The Ten Hours' Act, they cried, 
leaves no other alternative. * 

Their second step dealt with the legal pauses for meals. Let 
us hear the Factory Inspectors. "Since the restriction of the 
hours of work to ten, the factory occupiers maintain, although 
they have not yet practically gone the whole length, that suppos- 
ing the hours of work to be from 9 a. m. to 7 p. m. they fulfil 
the provisions of the statutes by allowing an hour before 9 a. m. 
and half an hour after 7 p. m. [for meals]. In some cases they 
now allow an hour, or half an hour for dinner, insisting at the 
same time, that they are not bound to allow any part of the hour 
and a half in the course of the factory working-day." 2 The manu- 
facturers maintained therefore that the scrupulously strict pro- 
visions of the Act of 1844 with regard to meal-times only gave 
the operatives permission to eat and drink before coming into, 
and after leaving the factory— i.e., at home. And why should 
not the workpeople eat their dinner before 9 in the morning? 
The crown lawyers, however, decided that the prescribed meal- 
times "must be in the interval during the working-hours, and 

1 Reports, &c, for 31st October, 1848, pp 133, 134. 
* Reports, &c, for 30th April, 1848, p. 47. 


that it will not be lawful to work for 10 hours continuously, 
from 9 a. m. to 7 p. m., without any interval." 1 

After these pleasant demonstrations, Capital preluded its 
revolt by a step which agreed with the letter of the law of 1844, 
and was therefore legal. 

The Act of 1844 certainly prohibited the employment after 

1 p. m. of such children, from 8 to 13, as had been employed 

before noon. But it did not regulate in any way the 6— 

hours' work of the children whose work-time began at 12 mid- 
day or later. Children of 8 might, if they began work at noon, 

be employed from 12 to 1, 1 hour; from 2 to 4 in the afternoon, 


2 hours; from 5 to 8.30 in the evening, 3— hours; in all, the le- 

gal 6^ hours. Or better still. In order to make their work 

coincide with that of the adult male labourers up to 8.30 p. m., 
the manufacturers only had to give them no work till 2 in the 
afternoon; they could then keep them in the factory without 
intermission till 8.30 in the evening. "And it is now expressly 
admitted that the practice exists in England from the desire 
of mill-owners to have their machinery at work for more than 
10 hours a-day, to keep the children at work with male adults 
after all the young persons and women have left, and 
until 8.30 p. m. if the factory-owners choose." 2 Workmen 
and factory inspectors protested on hygienic and moral grounds, 
but Capital answered: 

"My deeds upon my head! I crave the law, 
The penalty and forfeit of my bond." 

In fact, according to statistics laid before the House of Com- 
mons on July 26th, 1850, in spite of all protests, on July 15th, 
1850, 3,742 children were subjected to this "practice" in 257 
factories. 3 Still, this was not enough. The lynx eye of Capi- 
tal discovered that the Act of 1844 did not allow 5 hours' work 
before mid-day without a pause of at least 30 minutes for re- 
freshment, but prescribed nothing of the kind for work after mid- 
day. Therefore, it claimed and obtained the enjoyment not only 
of making children of 8 drudge without intermission from 2 to 
8.30 p. m., but also of making them hunger during that time. 

Reports, &c, for 31st October, 1848, p. 130 

Reports, &c, I. c, p 142. 

Reports, &c, for 31st October, 1850, pp. 5, 6. 


"Ay, his heart, 

So says the bond." l 

This Shylock-clinging to the letter of the law of 1844, so far 
as it regulated children's labour, was but to lead up to an open 
revolt against the same law, so far as it regulated the labour of 
"young persons and women." It will be remembered that the 
abolition of the "false relay system" was the chief aim and 
object of that law. The masters began their revolt with the sim- 
ple declaration that the sections of the Act of 1844 which pro- 
hibited the ad libitum use of young persons and women in such 
short fractions of the day of 15 hours as the employer chose, were 
"comparatively harmless" so long as the work-time was fixed at 
12 hours. But under the Ten Hours' Act they were a "grievous 
hardship." 2 They informed the inspectors in the coolest manner 
that they should place themselves above the letter of the law, 
and re-introduce the old system on their own account. 3 They 
were acting in the interests of the ill-advised operatives them- 
selves, "in order to be able to pay them higher wages." "This was 
the only possible plan by which to maintain, under the Ten Hours' 
Act, the industrial supremacy of Great Britain." "Perhaps it may 
be a little difficult to detect irregularities under the relay system; 
but what of that? Is the great manufacturing interest of this 
country to be treated as a secondary matter in order to save some 
little trouble to Inspectors and Sub-Inspectors of Factories?" 4 

All these shifts naturally were of no avail. The Factory 
Inspectors appealed to the Law Courts. But soon such a cloud 
of dust in the way of petitions from the masters overwhelmed the 
Home Secretary, Sir George Grey, that in a circular of August 
5th, 1848, he recommends the inspectors not "to lay informations 

1 The nature of capital remains the same in its developed as in its 
undeveloped form. In the code which the influence of the slave-owners, shortly 
before the outbreak of the American Civil War, imposed on the territory of 
New Mexico, it is said that the labourer, in as much as the capitalist has 
bought his labour-power, "is his (the capitalist's) money." The same view 
was current among the Roman patricians. The money they had advanced 
to the plebeian debtor had been transformed via the means of subsistence 
into the flesh and blood of the debtor. This "flesh and blood" were, therefore, 
"their money." Hence, the Shylock-law of the Ten Tables. Linguet's hypoth- 
esis that the patrician creditors from time to time prepared, beyond the 
Tiber, banquets of debtors' flesh, may remain as undecided as that of Daumer 
on the Christian Eucharist. 

2 Reports, &c, for 30th April, 1848, p. 28. 

3 Thus, among others, Philanthropist Ashworth to .Leonard Horner, 
in a disgusting Quaker letter. (Reports, &c, April, 1849, p. 4.) 

* 1. c, p. 140. 


against mill-owners for a breach of the letter of the Act, or for 
employment of young persons by relays in cases in which there 
is no reason to believe that such young persons have been actually 
employed for a longer period than that sanctioned by law." 
Hereupon, Factory Inspector J. Stuart allowed the so-called 
relay system during the 15 hours of the factory day throughout 
Scotland, where it soon flourished again as of old. The English 
Factory Inspectors, on the other hand, declared that the Home 
Secretary had no power dictatorially to suspend the law, and 
continued their legal proceedings against the pro-slavery rebellion. 

But what was the good of summoning the capitalists when the 
Courts, in this case the country magistrates— Gobbett's "Great 
Unpaid" — acquitted them? In these tribunals, the masters 
sat in judgment on themselves. An example. One Eskrigge, 
cotton-spinner, of the firm of Kershaw, Leese, & Co., had laid 
before the Factory Inspector of his district the scheme of a re- 
lay system intended for his mill. Receiving a refusal, he at 
first kept quiet. A few months later, an individual named 
Robinson, also a cotton-spinner, and if not his Man Friday, at 
all events related to Eskrigge, appeared before the borough ma- 
gistrates of Stockport on a charge of introducing the identical 
plan of relays invented by Eskrigge. Four Justices sat, among 
them three cotton-spinners, at their head this same inevitable 
Eskrigge. Eskrigge acquitted Robinson, and now was of 
opinion that what was right for Robinson was fair for Eskrigge. 
Supported by his own legal decision, he introduced the system 
at once into his own factory. l Of course, the composition of this 
tribunal was in itself a violation of the law. 2 These judicial 
farces, exclaims Inspector Howell, "urgently call for a remedy- 
either that the law should be so altered as to be made to conform 
to these decisions, or that it should be administered by a less 
fallible tribunal, whose decisions would conform to the law 
. . . when these cases are brought forward. I long for a stipen- 
diary magistrate." 3 

The crown lawyers declared the masters' interpretation of 
the Act of 1848 absurd. But the Saviours of Society would not 

1 Reports, &c, for 30th April, 1849, pp. 21, 22 Cf like examples 
ibid. pp. 4, 5. ,,«,,_, 

2 By I. and II. Will. IV., ch. 24, s. 10, known as Sir John Hobhouse s 
Factory Act, it was forbidden to any owner of a cotton-spinning or weaving 
mill, or the father, son, or brother of such owner, to act as Justice of the 
Peace in any inquiries that concerned the Factory Act. 

3 I. c. 


allow themselves to be turned from their purpose. Leonard Hor- 
ner reports, "Having endeavoured to enforce the Act . . . 
by ten prosecutions in seven magisterial divisions, and having 
been supported by the magistrates in one case only. ... I con- 
sidered it useless to prosecute more for this evasion of the law. 
That part of the Act of 1884 which was framed for securing uni- 
formity in the hours of work, ... is thus no longer in force in 
my district (Lancashire). Neither have the sub-inspectors or 
myself any means of satisfying ourselves, when we inspect a mill 
working by shifts, that the young persons and women are not 
working more than 10 hours a-day. ... In a return of the 30th 
April, ... of mill-owners working by shifts, the number 
amounts to 114, and has been for some time rapidly increasing. 

In general, the time of working the mill is extended to 13 y hours, 

from 6 a. m. to 7— p. m., ... in some instances it amounts 

1 1 

to 15 hours, from 5— a. m. to 8— p. m." 1 Already, in December, 

1848, Leonard Horner had a list of 65 manufacturers and 29 over- 
lookers who unanimously declared that no system of supervi- 
sion could, under this relay system, prevent enormous over-work. 2 
Now, the same children and young persons were shifted from the 
spinning-room to the weaving-room, now, during 15 hours, from 
one factory to another. 3 How was it possible to control a system 
which, "under the guise of relays, is some one of the many plans 
for shuffling 'the hands' about in endless variety, and shifting 
the hours of work and of rest for different individuals through- 
out the day, so that you may never have one complete set of 
hands working together in the same room at the same time." 4 
But altogether independently of actual over-work, this so- 
called relay system was an offspring of capitalistic fantasy 
such as Fourier, in his humorous sketches of "Courtes Seances," 
has never surpassed, except that the "attraction of labour" was 
changed into the attraction of capital. Look, for example, at 
those schemes of the masters which the "respectable" press 
praised as models of "what a reasonable degree of care and 
method can accomplish." The personnel of the workpeople was 

J Reports, &c, for 30th April, 1849, p. 5. 
2 Reports, &c, for 31st October, 1849, p. 6. 
8 Reports, &c, for 30th April, 1849, p. 21 
• Reports, &c, for 31st October, 1848, p 95. 


sometimes divided into from 12 to 14 categories, which them- 
selves constantly changed and rechanged their constituent 
parts. During the 15 hours of the factory day, capital dragged 
in the labourer now for 30 minutes, now for an hour, and then 
pushed him out again, to drag him into the factory and to thrust 
him out afresh, hounding him hither and thither, in scat- 
tered shreds of time, without ever losing hold of him until the 
full 10 hours' work was done. As on the stage, the same per- 
sons had to appear in turns in the different scenes of the differ- 
ent acts. But as an actor during the whole course of the play be- 
longs to the stage, so the operatives, during 15 hours, belonged 
to the factory, without reckoning the time for going and coming. 
Thus the hours of rest were turned into hours of enforced idleness, 
which drove the youths to the pot-house, and the girls to the 
brothel. At every new trick that the capitalist, from day to day, 
hit upon for keeping his machinery going 12 or 15 hours with- 
out increasing the number of his hands, the worker had to swallow 
his meals now in this fragment of time, now in that. At the time 
of the 10 hours' agitation, the masters cried out that the work- 
ing mob petitioned in the hope of obtaining 12 hours' wages 
for 10 hours' work. Now they reversed the medal. They paid 10 
hours' wages for 12 or 15 hours' lordship over labour-power. 1 
This was the gist of the matter, this the masters' interpretation 
of the 10 hours' law! These were the same unctuous Free-traders, 
perspiring with the love of humanity, who for full 10 years, dur- 
ing the Anti-Corn Law agitation, had preached to the operatives, 
by a reckoning of pounds, shillings, and pence, that with free 
importation of corn, and with the means possessed by English 
industry, 10 hours' labour would be quite enough to enrich the 
capitalists. 2 This revolt of capital, after two years was at last 
crowned with victory by a decision of one of the four highest 
Courts of Justice in England, the Court of Exchequer, which in a 
case brought before it on February 8th, 1850, decided that the 
manufacturers were certainly acting against the sense of the Act 
of 1844, but that this Act itself contained certain words that ren- 
dered it meaningless. "By this decision, the Ten Hours' Act was 

1 See Reports, &c, for 30th April, 1849, p. 6, and the detailed expla- 
nation of the "shifting system," by Factory Inspectors Howell and Saunders, 
in "Reports, &c, for 31st October, 1848." See also the petition to the Queen 
from the clergy of Ashton and vicinity, in the spring of 1849, against the 
"shift system." 

2 Cf. for example, "The Factory Question and the Ten Hours Bill." 
By R. H. Greg, 1837. 


abolished." 1 A crowd of masters, who until then had been afraid 
of using the relay system for young persons and women, now took 
it up heart and soul. 2 

But on this apparently decisive victory of capital, followed 
at once a revulsion. The workpeople had hitherto offered a 
passive, although inflexible and unremitting resistance. They 
now protested in Lancashire and Yorkshire in threatening 
meetings. The pretended Ten Hours' Act, was thus simple hum- 
bug, parliamentary cheating, had never existed! The Factory 
Inspectors urgently warned the Government that the antago- 
nism of classes had arrived at an incredible tension. Some of the 
masters themselves murmured: "On account of the contradictory 
decisions of the magistrates, a condition of things altogether ab- 
normal and anarchical obtains. One law holds in Yorkshire, another 
in Lancashire; one law in one parish of Lancashire, another in its 
immediate neighbourhood. The manufacturer in large towns could 
evade the law, the manufacturer in country districts could not find 
the people necessary for the relay system, still less for the shifting 
of hands from one factory to another," &c. And the first birthright 
of capital is equal exploitation of labour-power by all capitalists. 

Under these circumstances a compromise between masters 
and men was effected that received the seal of Parliament in 
the additional Factory Act of August 5th, 1850. The working- 

day for "young persons and women," was raised from 10 to lOy 

hours for the first five days of the week, and was shortened to 1— 

on the Saturday. The work was to go on between 6 a. m. and 6 

p. m., 3 with pauses of not less than 1— hours for meal-times, 

these meal-times to be allowed at one and the same time for all, 
and conformably to the conditions of 1844. By this an end was 
put to the relay system once for all. 4 For children's labour, the 
Act of 1844 remained in force. 

1 F. Engels: "The English Ten Hours' Bill." (In the "iNeue Rheinische 
Zeitung, Politisch-cekonomische Revue." Edited by K. Marx. April number, 
1850, p. 13.)Thesame "high" Court of Justice discovered, during the Ameri- 
can Civil War, a verbal ambiguity which exactly reversed the meaning ol 
the law against the arming of pirate ships. 

2 Rep., &c, for 30th April, 1850. 

8 In winter, from 7 a. m to 7 p. m. may be substituted. 

4 "The present law (of 1850) was a compromise whereby the employed 
surrendered the benefit of the Ten Hours' Act for the advantage of one uni- 
form period for the commencement and termination of the labour of those 
whose labour is restricted." (Reports, &.C., for 30th April, 1852, p. 14.) 


One set of masters, this time as before, secured to itself 
special seigneurial rights over the children of the proletariat. 
These were the silk manufacturers. In 1833 they had howled 
out in threatening fashion, "if the liberty of working children 
of any age for 10 hours a day were taken away, it would stop their 
works." x It would be impossible for them to buy a sufficient num- 
ber of children over 13. They extorted the privilege they de- 
sired. The pretext was shown on subsequent investigation to be 
a deliberate lie. 2 It did not, however, prevent them, during 10 
years, from spinning silk 10 hours a day out of the blood of lit- 
tle children who had to be placed upon stools for the performance 
of their work. 3 The Act of 1844 certainly "robbed" them of the 

"liberty" of employing children under 11 longer than 6— hours 

a day. But it secured to them, on the other hand, the privilege 
of working children between 11 and 13, 10 hours a day, and of 
annulling in their case the education made compulsory for all 
other factory children. This time the pretext was "the delicate 
texture of the fabric in which they were employed, requiring a 
lightness of touch, only to be acquired by their early introduction 
to these .factories." 4 The children were slaughtered out-and-out 
for the sake of their delicate fingers, as in Southern Russia the 
horned cattle for the sake of their hide and tallow. At length, in 
1850, the privilege granted in 1844, was limited to the depart- 
ments of silk-twisting and silk-winding. But here, to make amends 
to capital bereft of its "freedom," the work-time for children from 

11 to 13 was raised from 10 to 10— hours. Pretext: "Labour in 

silk mills was lighter than in mills for other fabrics, and less 
likely in other respects also to be prejudicial to health." 5 Official 
medical inquiries proved afterwards that, on the contrary, "the 
average death-rate is exceedingly high in the silk districts, and 
amongst the female part of the population is higher even than 
it is in the cotton districts of Lancashire." 6 Despite the protests 

1 Reports, &c, for Sept.. 1844, p. 13. 

2 1. c. 

3 1. c. 

a "Reports, &c, ior 31st Oct., 1846, " p. 20. 

5 Reports, &c, for 31st Oct., 1861, p. 26. 

6 1. c. p. 27. On the whole the working population, subject to the Fac- 
tory Act, has greatly improved physically. All medical testimony agrees on 
this point, and personal observation at different times has convinced me of 



of the Factory Inspector, renewed every 6 months, the mischief 
continues to this hour. 1 

The Act of 1850 changed the 15 hours' time from 6 a. m. to 
8.30 p. m., into the 12 hours from 6 a. m. to 6 p. m. for "young 
persons and women" only. It did not, therefore, affect children 

who could always be employed for half an hour before and 2 — 

hours after this period, provided the whole of their labour did 

not exceed 

6-^- hours. Whilst the bill was under discussion, 


Factory Inspectors laid before Parliament statistics of the infa- 
mous abuses due to this anomaly. To no purpose. In the background 
lurked the intention of screwing up, during prosperous years, the 
working-day of adult males to 15 hours by the aid of the children. 
The experience of the three following years showed that such an 
attempt must come to grief against the resistance of the adult 

it. Nevertheless, and exclusive of the terrible death-rate of children in the 
first years of their life, the official reports of Dr. Greenhow show the unfa- 
vourable health condition of the manufacturing districts as compared with 
"agricultural districts of normal health." As evidence, take the following 
table from his 1861 report: — 


„_, a 






<• bo 



<- o 


S • 

<U W 3 


Name of District. 


g. w 5 

« a o 

*^ U (9 

a> <« 3 
2— c 

ns per 

ns per 

*j « eo 
g« 3 

■C 3 

c o 

j) ra w 

<V 3 C ro 

CD 3 C <u 


— o 




Pnfe 6 















































Eight healthy agricultural 







1 It is well known with what reluctance the English "Free-traders'* 
gave up the protective duty on the silk manufacture. Instead of the protec- 
tion against French importation, the absence of protection to English fac- 
tory children now serves their turn. 


male operatives. The Act of 1850 was therefore finally completed 
in 1853 by forbidding the "employment of children in the morn- 
ing before and in the evening after young persons and women." 
Henceforth with a few exceptions the Factory Act of 1850 regu- 
lated the working-day of all workers in the branches of industry 
that come under it. 1 Since the passing of the first Factory Act 
half a century had elapsed. 2 

Factory legislation for the first time went beyond its original 
sphere in the "Printworks' Act of 1845." The displeasure with 
which capital received this new "extravagance" speaks through 
every line of the Act. It limits the working-day for children from 
8 to 13, and for women to 16 hours, between 6 a. m. and 10 p. m., 
without any legal pause for meal-times. It allows males over 13 
to be worked at will day and night. 3 It is a Parliamentary abor- 
tion. 4 

However, the principle had triumphed with its victory in 
those great branches of industry which form the most character- 
istic creation of the modern mode of production. Their wonderful 
development from 1853 to 1860, hand-in-hand with the physical 
and moral regeneration of the factory workers, struck the most 
purblind. The masters from whom the legal limitation and regula- 
tion had been wrung step by step after a civil war of half a century, 
themselves referred ostentatiouslv to the contrast with the branches 

1 During 1859 and 1860, the zenith years of the English cotton indus- 
try, some manufacturers tried, by the decoy bait of higher wages for over- 
time, to reconcile the adult male operatives to an extension of the working- 
day. The hand-mule spinners and self-actor minders put an end to the exper- 
iment by a petition to their employers in whicl they say, "Plainly speaking, 
our lives are to us a burthen; and, while we are confined to the mills nearly 
two days a iceek more than the other operatives of the country, we feel like 
helots in the land, and that we are perpetuating a system injurious to ourselves 
and future generations.... This, therefore, is to give you most respectful 
notice that when we commence work again after the Christmas and New 
Year's holidays, we shall work 60 hours per week, and no more, or from six 
to six, with one hour and a half out." (Reports, &c, for 30th April, 1860, 
p. 30.) 

2 On the means that the wording of this Act afforded tor its violation 
cf. the Parliamentary Return "Factories Regulation Act" (6th August, 1859), 
and in it Leonard Horner's "Suggestions for amending the Factory Acts to 
enable the Inspectors to prevent illegal working, now becoming very 

3 "Children of the age of 8 years and upwards, have, indeed, been em- 
ployed from 6 a. m. to 9 p. m. during the last half year in my district." (Re- 
ports, &c, for 31st October, 1857, p. 39.) 

4 "The Printworks' Act is admitted to be a failure, both with reier- 
ence to its educational and protective provisions." (Reports, &c ., for 31st 
October, 1862, p 52.) 


of exploitation still "free." 1 The Pharisees of "Political Economy" 
now proclaimed the discernment of the necessity of a legally 
fixed working-day as a characteristic new discovery of their "sci- 
ence." 2 It will be easily understood that after the factory magnates 
had resigned themselves and become reconciled to the inevitable, 
the power of resistance of capital gradually weakened, whilst at 
the same time the power of attack of the working-class grew with 
the number of its allies in the classes of society not immediately 
interested in the question. Hence the comparatively rapid advance 
since 1860. 

The dye-works and bleach-works all came under the Factory 
Act of 1850 in I860; 3 lace and stocking manufactures in 1861. 

In consequence of the first report of the Commission on the 
employment of children (1863) the same fate was shared by 
the manufacturers of all earthenwares (not merely pottery), 
lucifer-matches, percussion-caps, cartridges, carpets, fustian- 
cutting, and many processes included under the name of "finish- 
ing." In the year 1863 bleaching in the open air 4 and baking 

1 Thus, e.g., E. Potter in a letter to the Times of March 24th, 1863. 
The Times reminded him of the manufacturers' revolt against the Ten 
Hours' Bill. 

2 Thus, among others, Mr. W. Newmarch, collaborator and editor of 
Tooke's "History of Prices." Is it a scientific advance to make cowardly 
concessions to public opinion? 

3 The Act passed in 1860, determined that, in regard to dye and bleach- 
works, the working-day should be fixed on August 1st, 1861, provision- 
ally at 12 hours, and definitely on August 1st, 1862, at 10 hours, i.e., at 10-^- 

hours for ordinary days, and 7-s- for Saturday. Now, when the fatal year, 

1862, came, the old farce was repeated. Besides, the manufacturers petitioned 
Parliament to allow the employment of young persons and women for 
12 hours during one year longer. "In the existing condition of the trade (the 
time of the cotton famine), it was greatly to the advantage of the operatives 
to work 12 hours per day, and make wages when they could." A bill to this 
effect had been brought in, "and it was mainly due to the action of the oper- 
ative bleachers in Scotland that the bill was abandoned " (Reports, &c, 
for 31st October, 1862, pp. 14-15.) Thus defeated by the very workpeople, 
in whose name it pretended to speak, Capital discovered, with the help of 
lawyer spectacles, that the Act of 1860, drawn up, like all the Acts of Parlia- 
ment for the "protection of labour," in equivocal phrases, gave them a pretext 
to exclude from its working the calenderers and finishers. English jurispru- 
dence, ever the faithful servant of capital, sanctioned in the Court of Common 
Pleas this piece of pettifogging. "The operatives have been greatly disap- 
pointed... they have complained of over-work, and it is greatly to be regretted 
that the clear intention of the legislature should have failed by reason of a 
faulty definition." (1. c, p. 18.) 

A The "open-air bleachers" had evaded the law of 1860, by means of 
the lie that no women worked at it in the night. The lie was exposed by the 


were placed under special Acts, by which, in the former, the la- 
bour of young persons and women during the night-time (from 
8 in the evening to 6 in the morning), and in the latter, the employ- 
ment of journeymen bakers under 18, between 9 in the evening 
and 5 in the morning were forbidden. We shall return to the later 
proposals of the same Commission, which threatened to deprive 
of their "freedom" all the important branches of English Industry, 
with the exception of agriculture, mines, and the means of trans- 
port. * 

Factory Inspectors, and at the same time Parliament was, by petitions from 
the operatives, bereft of its notions as to the cool meadow-fragrance, in which 
bleaching in the open-air was reported to take place. In this aerial bleaching, 
drying-rooms were used at temperatures of from 90° to 100° Fahrenheit, 
in which the work was done for the most part by girls. "Cooling" is the techni- 
cal expression for their occasional escape from the drying-rooms into the fresh 
air. "Fifteen girls in stoves. Heat from 80° to 90° for linens, and 100° and up- 
wards for cambrics. Twelve girls ironing and doing-up in a small room about 
10 feet square, in the centre of which is a close stove. The girls stand round 
the stove, which throws out a terrific heat, and dries the cambrics rapidly 
for the ironers. The hours of work for these hands are unlimited. If busy, 
they work till 9 or 12 at night for successive nights." (Reports, &c, for 31st 
October, 1862, p. 56.) A medical man states: "No special hours are allowed 
for cooling, but if the temperature gets too high, or the workers' hands get 
soiled from perspiration, they are allowed to go out for a few minutes.... My 
experience, which is considerable, in treating the diseases of stove workers, 
compels me to express the opinion that their sanitary condition is by no means 
so high as that of the operatives in a spinning factory (and Capital, in its 
memorials to Parliament, had painted them as floridly healthy, after the 
manner of Rubens). The diseases most observable amongst them are phthisis, 
bronchitis, irregularity of uterine functions, hysteria in its most aggravated 
forms, and rheumatism. All of these, I believe, are either directly or indi- 
rectly induced by the impure, overheated air of the apartments in which 
the hands are employed, and the want of sufficient comfortable clothing to 
protect them from the cold, damp atmosphere, in winter, when going to their 
homes." (1. c, pp. 56-57.) The Factory Inspectors remarked on the supple- 
mentary law of 1860, torn from these open-air bleachers: "The Act has not 
only failed to afford that protection to the workers which it appears to 
offer, but contains a clause ... apparently so worded that, unless persons are 
detected working after 8 o'clock at night they appear to come under no pro- 
tective provisions at all, and if they do so work, the mode of proof is so 
doubtful that a conviction can scarcely follow." (1. c. p. 52.) "To all intents 
and purposes, therefore, as an Act for any benevolent or educational purpose, 
it is a failure; since it can scarcely be called benevolent to permit, which is 
tantamount to compelling, women and children to work 14 hours a day with 
or without meals, as the case may be, and perhaps for longer hours than 
these, without limit as to age, without reference to sex, and without regard 
to the social habits of the families of the neighbourhood, in which such works 
(bleaching and dyeing) are situated." (Reports, &c, for 30th April, 1863, 
p. 40.) 

1 Note to the 2nd Ed. Since 1866, when I wrote the above passages, 
a re-action has again set in. 





The reader will bear in mind that the production of surplus- 
value, or the extraction of surplus-labour, is the specific end and 
aim, the sum and substance, of capitalist production, quite apart 
from any changes in the mode of production, which may arise 
from the subordination of labour to capital. He will remember 
that as far as we have at present gone, only the independent la- 
bourer, and therefore only the labourer legally qualified to act for 
himself, enters as a vendor of a commodity into a contract with 
the capitalist. If, therefore, in our historical sketch, on the one 
hand, modern industry; on the other, the labour of those who are 
physically and legally minors, play important parts, the former 
was to us only a special department, and the latte,r only a special- 
ly striking example of labour exploitation. Without, however, 
anticipating the subsequent development of our inquiry, from 
the mere connexion of the historic facts before us, it follows: 

First. The passion of capital for an unlimited and reckless 
extension of the working-day, is first gratified in the industries 
earliest revolutionised by water-power, steam, and machinery, 
in those first creations of the modern mode of production, cot- 
ton, wool, flax, and silk spinning, and weaving. The changes in 
the material mode of production, and the corresponding changes 
in the social relations of the producers 1 gave rise first to an 
extravagance beyond all bounds, and then in opposition to this, 
called forth a control on the part of Society which legally limits, 
regulates, and makes uniform the working-day and its pauses. 
This control appears, therefore, during the first half of the 
nineteenth century simply as exceptional legislation. 2 As soon 
as this primitive dominion of the new mode of production was con- 
quered, it was found that, in the meantime, not only had many 
other branches of production been made to adopt the same factory 
system, but that manufactures with more or less obsolete methods, 
such as potteries, glass-making, &c, that old-fashioned handicrafts, 
like baking, and, finally, even that the so-called domestic indus- 

1 "The conduct of each of these classes (capitalists and workmen) has 
been the result of the relative situation in which they have been placed." 
(Reports, &c, for 31st October, 1848, p. 113.) 

2 "The employments, placed under restriction, were connected with 
the manufacture of textile fabrics by the aid of steam or water-power. There 
were two conditions to which an employment must be subject to cause it 
to be inspected, viz., the use of steam or water-power, and the manufacture 
of certain specified fibres." (Reports, &c, for 31st October, 1864, p. 8.) 


tries, such as nail-making, 1 had long since fallen as completely 
under capitalist exploitation as the factories themselves. Legisla- 
tion was, therefore, compelled to gradually get rid of its ex- 
ceptional character, or where, as in England, it proceeds after 
the manner of the Roman Casuists, to declare any house in which 
work was done to be a factory. 2 

Second. The history of the regulation of the working-day in 
certain branches of production, and the struggle still going on 
in others in regard to this regulation, prove conclusively that 
the isolated labourer, the labourer as "free" vendor of his la- 
bour-power, when capitalist production has once attained a cer- 
tain stage, succumbs without any power of resistance. The crea- 
tion of a normal working-day is, therefore, the product of a pro- 
tracted civil war, more or less dissembled, between the capitalist 
class and the working-class. As the contest takes place in the arena 
of modern industry, it first breaks out in the home of that indus- 
try — England. 3 The English factory workers were the champions, 
not only of the English, but of the modern working-class generally, 
as their theorists were the first to throw down the gauntlet to the 
theory of capital. 4 Hence, the philosopher of the Factory, Ure, 

1 On the condition of so-called domestic industries, specially valuable 
materials are to be found in the latest reports of the Children's Employment 

2 "The Acts of last Session (1864) ... embrace a diversity of occupa- 
tions, the customs in which differ greatly, and the use of mechanical power 
to give motion to machinery is no longer one of the elements necessary, 
as formerly, to constitute, in legal phrase, a 'Factory.'" (Reports, &c, for 
31st October, 1864, p. 8.) 

3 Belgium, the paradise of Continental Liberalism, shows no trace of 
this movement. Even in the coal and metal mines, labourers of both sexes, 
and all ages, are consumed, in perfect "freedom," at any period, and through 
any length of time. Of every 1,000 persons employed there, 733 are men, 
88 women, 135 boys, and 44 girls under 16; in the blast-furnaces, &c, of 
every 1,000, 668 are men, 149 women, 98 boys, and 85 girls under 16. Add to 
this the low wages for the enormous exploitation of mature and immature 
labour-power. The average daily pay for a man is 2s. 8d., for a woman, Is. 

8d., for a boy, Is. 2-^- d. As a result, Belgium had in 1863, as compared with 
1850, nearly doubled both the amount and the value of its exports of coal, 
iron, &c. 

4 Robert Owen, soon after 1810, not only maintained the necessity of 
a limitation of the working-day in theory, but actually introduced the 10 
hours' day into his factory at New Lanark. This was laughed at as a commu- 
nistic Utopia; so were his "Combination of children's education with pro- 
ductive labour" and the Co-operative Societies of working-men, first called 
into being by him. To-day, the first Utopia is a Factory Act, the second figures 
as an official phrase in all Factory Acts, the third is already being used 
as a cloak for reactionary humbug. 


denounces as an ineffable disgrace to the English working-class that 
they inscribed "the slavery of the Factory Acts" on the banner 
which they bore against capital, manfully striving for "perfect 
freedom of labour." 1 

France limps slowly behind England. The February revolu- 
tion was necessary to bring into the world the 12 hours' law, 2 
which is much more deficient than its English original. For all 
that, the French revolutionary method has its special advan- 
tages. It once for all commands the same limit to the working-day 
in all shops and factories without distinction, whilst English 
legistation reluctantly yields to the pressure of circumstances, 
now on this point, now on that, and is getting lost in a hopelessly 
bewildering tangle of contradictory enactments. 3 On the other 
hand, the French law proclaims as a principle that which in 
England was only won in the name of children, minors, and 
women, and has been only recently for the first time claimed as 
a general right. 4 

1 Ure: "French translation, Philosophie des Manufactures." Paris, 
1836, Vol. II., pp. 39, 40, 67, 77, &c. 

2 In the Compte Rendu of the International Statistical Congress at 
Paris, 1855, it is stated: "The French law, which limits the length of daily 
labour in factories and workshops to 12 hours, does not confine this work to 
definite fixed hours. For children's labour only the work-time is prescribed 
as between 5 a. m. and 9 p. m. Therefore, some of the masters use the right 
which this fatal silence gives them to keep their works going, without inter- 
mission, day in, day out, possibly with the exception of Sunday. For this 
purpose they use two different sets of workers, of whom neither is in the work- 
shop more than 12 hours at a time, but the work of the establishment lasts 
day and night. The law is satisfied, but is humanity?" Besides "the destruc- 
tive influence of night-labour on the human organism," stress is also 
laid upon "the fatal influence of the association of the two sexes by night 
in the same badly-lighted workshops." 

3 "For instance, there is within my district one occupier who, within 
the same curtilage, is at the same time a bleacher and dyer under the 
Bleaching and Dyeing Works Act, a printer under the Print Works Act, 
and a finisher under the Factory Act." (Report of Mr. Baker, in Reports, 
&c, for October 31st, 1861, p. 20.) After enumerating the different provisions 
of these Acts, and the complications arising from them, Mr. Baker says: 
"It will hence appear that it must be very difficult to secure the execution 
of these three Acts of Parliament where the occupier chooses to evade 
the law." But what is assured to the lawyers by this is law-suits. 

4 Thus the Factory Inspectors at last venture to say: "These objections 
(of capital to the legal limitation of the working-day) must succumb before 
the broad principle of the rights of labour... There is a time when the mas- 
ter's right in his workman's labour ceases, and his time becomes his own, 
even if there were no exhaustion in the question." (Reports, &c., for 31st 
Oct., 1862, p. 54.) 


In the United States of North America, every independent 
movement of the workers was paralysed so long as slavery dis- 
figured a part of the Republic. Labour cannot emancipate it- 
self in the white skin where in the black it is branded. But out 
of the death of slavery a new life at once arose. The first fruit 
of the Civil War was the eight hours' agitation, that ran with the 
seven-leagued boots of the locomotive from the Atlantic to the 
Pacific, from New England to California. The General Congress 
of Labour at Baltimore (August 16th, 1866) declared: "The first 
and great necessity of the present, to free the labour of this country 
from capitalistic slavery, is the passing of a law by which eight 
hours shall be the normal working-day in all States of the Ameri- 
can Union. We are resolved to put forth all our strength until 
this glorious result is attained." 1 At the same time, the Congress 
of the International Working Men's Association at Geneva, on 
the proposition of the London General Council, resolved that "the 
limitation of the working-day is a preliminary condition without 
which all further attempts at improvement and emancipation must 
prove abortive . . . the Congress proposes eight hours as the le- 
gal limit of the working-day." 

Thus the movement of the working-class on both sides of 
the Atlantic, that had grown instinctively out of the conditions 
of production themselves, endorsed the words of the English 
Factory Inspector, R. J. Saunders: "Further steps towards a 
reformation of society can never be carried out with any hope 
of success, unless the hours of labour be limited, and the pre- 
scribed limit strictly enforced." 2 

It must be acknowledged that our labourer comes out of the 
process of production other than he entered. In the market he 
stood as owner of the commodity "labour-power" face to face 
with other owners of commodities, dealer against dealer. The con- 
tract by which he sold to the capitalist his Labour-power proved, 
so to say, in black and white that he disposed of himself freely. 

1 "We, the workers of Dunkirk, declare that the length of time of labour 
required under the present system is too great, and that, tar from leaving 
the worker time for rest and education, it plunges him into a condition ot 
servitude but little better than slavery. That is why we decide that 8 hours 
are enough for a working-day, and ought to be legally recognised as enough; 
why we call to our help that powerful lever, the press; ... and why we shall 
consider all those that refuse us this help as enemies of the reform oi labour 
and of the rights of the labourer." (Resolution of the Working Men ot Dun- 
kirk, New York State, 1866.) 

2 Reports, &c, for Oct., 1848, p 112. 


The bargain concluded, it is discovered that he was no "free agent," 
that the time for which he is free to sell his labour-power is the 
time for which he is forced to sell it, 1 that in fact the vampire 
will not lose its hold on him "so long as there is a muscle, a nerve, 
a drop of blood to be exploited." 2 For "protection" against "the ser- 
pent of their agonies," the labourers must put their heads together, 
and, as a class, compel tne passing of a law, an all-powerful 
social barrier that shall prevent the very workers from selling, 
by voluntary contract with capital, themselves and their fam- 
ilies into slavery and death. 3 In place of the pompous cata- 
logue of the "inalienable rights of man" comes the modest Magna 
Charta of a legally limited working-day, which shall make clear 
"when the time which the worker sells is ended, and when his 
own begins." 4 Quantum mutatus ab illo! 

1 "The proceedings (the manoeuvres of capital, e.g., from 1848-50) 
have afforded, moreover, incontrovertible proof of the fallacy of the asser- 
tion so often advanced, that operatives need no protection, but may be consid- 
ered as free agents in the disposal of the only property which they possess— 
the labour of their hands and the sweat of their brows." (Reports, &c, for 
April 30th, 1850, p. 45.) "Free labour (if so it may be termed) even in a free 
country, requires the strong arm of the law to protect it." (Reports, &c, for 
October 31st, 1864, p. 34.) "To permit, which is tantamount to compelling... 
to work 14 hours a day with or without meals," &c. (Repts., &c, for April 
30th, 1863, p. 40.) 

* Friedrich Engels, 1. c, p. 5. 

3 The 10 Hours' Act has, in the branches of industry that come under 
it, "put an end to the premature decrepitude of the former long-hour workers." 
(Reports, &c, for 31st Oct., 1859, p. 47.) "Capital (in factories) can never be 
employed in keeping the machinery in motion beyond a limited time, without 
certain injury to the health and morals of the labourers employed; and they 
are not in a position to protect themselves." (1. c, p. 8.) 

4 "A still greater boon is the distinction at last made clear between 
the worker's own time and his master's. The worker knows now when that 
which he sells is ended, and when his own begins; and by possessing a sure 
foreknowledge of this, is enabled to pre-arrange his own minutes for his own 
purposes." (1. c, p. 52.) "By making them masters of their own time (the 
Factory Acts) have given them a moral energy which is directing them to 
the eventual possession of political power" (1. c, p. 47). With suppressed 
irony, and in very well weighed words, the Factory Inspectors hint that the 
actual law also frees the capitalist from some of the brutality natural to 
a man who is a mere embodiment of capital, and that it has given him time 
for a little "culture." "Formerly the master had no time for anything but 
money; the servant had no time for anything but labour" (1. c, p. 48). 



In this chapter, as hitherto, the value of labour-power, 
and therefore the part of the working-day necessary for the 
reproduction or maintenance of that labour-power, are supposed 
to be given, constant magnitudes. 

This premised, with the rate, the mass is at the same time 
given of the surplus-value that the individual labourer furnishes 
to the capitalist in a definite period of time. If, e.g., the neces- 
sary labour amounts to 6 hours daily, expressed in a quantum of 
gold=3 shillings, then 3s. is the daily value of one labour-power 
or the value of the capital advanced in the buying of one labour- 
power. If, further, the rate of surplus-value be =100%, this vari- 
able capital of 3s. produces a mass of surplus-value of 3s., or the 
labourer supplies daily a mass of surplus-labour equal to 6 

But the variable capital of a capitalist is the expression in 
money of the total value of all the labour-powers that he employs 
simultaneously. Its value is, therefore, equal to the average value 
of one labour-power, multiplied by the number of labour-powers 
employed. With a given value of labour-power, therefore, the mag- 
nitude of the variable capital varies directly as the number of 
labourers employed simultaneously. If the daily value of one la- 
bour-power =3s., then a capital of 300s. must be advanced in 
order to exploit daily 100 labour-powers, of n times 3s., in order 
to exploit daily n labour-powers. 

In the same way, if a variable capital of 3s., being the daily 
value of one labour-power, produce a daily surplus-value of 3s., 
a variable capital of 300s. will produce a daily surplus-value of 
300s., and one of n times 3s. a daily surplus-value of nx3s. 
The mass of the surplus-value produced is therefore equal to the 
surplus-value which the working-day of one labourer supplies 


multiplied by the number of labourers employed. But as further 
the mass of surplus-value which a single labourer produces, the 
value of labour-power being given, is determined by the rate of 
the surplus-value, this law follows: the mass of the surplus-value 
produced is equal to the amount of the variable capital advanced, 
multiplied by the rate of surplus-value; in other words: it is de- 
termined by the compound ratio between the number of labour- 
powers exploited simultaneously by the same capitalist and the 
degree of exploitation of each individual labour-power. 

Let the mass of the surplus-value be S, the surplus-value 
supplied by the individual labourer in the average day s, the 
variable capital daily advanced in the purchase of one individual 
labour-power v, the sum total of the variable capital V, the val- 
ue of an average labour-power P, its degree of exploitation — 

/ surp us- a our \ an j t ^ e number of labourers employed n; 
\ necessary labour/ r J 

we have: 

It is always supposed, not only that the value of an average 
labour-power is constant, but that the labourers employed by 
a capitalist are reduced to average labourers. There are exception- 
al cases in which the surplus-value produced does not increase in 
proportion to the number of labourers exploited, but then the 
value of the labour-power does not remain constant. 

In the production of a definite mass of surplus-value, there- 
fore, the decrease of one factor may be compensated by the in- 
crease of the other. If the variable capital diminishes, and at 
the same time the rate of surplus-value increases in the same 
ratio, the mass of surplus-value produced remains unaltered. 
If on our earlier assumption the capitalist must advance 300s., 
in order to exploit 100 labourers a day, and if the rate of sur- 
plus-value amounts to 50%, this variable capital of 300s. yields 
a surplus-value of 150s. or of 100 x 3 working-hours. If the rate 
of surplus-value doubles, or the working-day, instead of being 
extended from 6 to 9, is extended from 6 to 12 hours and at the same 
time variable capital is lessened by half, and reduced to 150s., 
it yields also a surplus-value of 150s. or 50 x 6 V working-hours. 
Diminution of the variable capital may therefore be compensated 


by a proportionate rise in the degree of exploitation of labour- 
power, or the decrease in the number of the labourers employed 
by a proportionate extension of the working-day. Within certain 
limits therefore the supply of labour exploitable by capital is 
independent of the supply of labourers. 1 On the contrary, a fall 
in the rate of surplus-value leaves unaltered the mass of the 
surplus-value produced, if the amount of the variable capital, or 
number of the labourers employed, increases in the same pro- 

Nevertheless, the compensation of a decrease in the number of 
labourers employed, or of the amount of variable capital advanced, 
by a rise in the rate of surplus-value, or by the lengthening of the 
working-day, has impassable limits. Whatever the value of labour- 
power may be, whether the working-time necessary for the main- 
tenance of the labourer is 2 or 10 hours, the total value that a la- 
bourer can produce, day in, day out, is always less than the value 
in which 24 hours of labour are embodied, less than 12s., if 12s. 
is the money expression for 24 hours of realised labour. In our for- 
mer assumption, according to which 6 working-hours are daily nec- 
essary in order to reproduce the labour-power itself or to replace 
the value of the capital advanced in its purchase, a variable capi- 
tal of 1,500s., that employs 500 labourers at a rate of surplus-value 
of 100% with a 12 hours' working-day, produces daily a surplus- val- 
ue of 1,500s. or of 6x500 working-hours. A capital of 300s. that em- 
ploys 100 labourers a day with a rate of surplus-value of 200% or 
with a working-day of 18 hours, produces only a mass of surplus-val- 
ue of 600s. 'or 12x100 working-hours; and its total value-product, 
the equivalent of the variable capital advanced plus the surplus- 
value, can, day in, day out, never reach the sum of 1 ,200s. or 24 x 100 
working-hours. The absolute limit of the average working-day — 
this being by nature always less than 24 hours— sets an absolute 
limit to the compensation of a reduction of variable capital by a 
higher rate of surplus-value, or of the decrease of the number of 
labourers exploited by a higher degree of exploitation of labour- 
power. This palpable law is of importance for the clearing up of 
many phenomena, arising from a tendency (to be worked out later 
on) of capital to reduce as much as possible the number of labour- 
ers employed by it, or its variable constituent transformed into 
labour-power, in contradiction to its other tendency to produce 

1 This elementary law appears to be unknown to the vulgar economists, 
who, upside-down Archimedes, in the determination of the market-price 
of labour by supply and demand, imagine they have found the fulcrum 
by means of which, not to move the world, but to stop its motion. 


the greatest possible mass of surplus-value. On the other hand, if 
the mass of labour-power employed, or the amount of variable 
capital, increases, but not in proportion to the fall in the rate of 
surplus-value, the mass of the surplus-value produced, falls. 
A third law results from the determination, of the mass of the 
surplus-value produced, by the two factors: rate of surplus-value 
and amount of variable capital advanced. The rate of surplus- 
value, or the degree of exploitation of labour-power, and the value 
of labour-power, or the amount of necessary working-time being 
given, it is self-evident that the greater the variable capital, the 
greater would be the mass of the value produced and of the surplus- 
value. If the limit of the working-day is given, and also the limit of 
its necessary constituent, the mass of value and surplus-value that 
an individual capitalist produces, is clearly exclusively dependent 
on the mass of labour that he sets in motion. But this, under the 
conditions supposed above, depends on the mass of labour-power, 
or the number of labourers whom he exploits, and this number in 
its turn is determined by the amount of the variable capital ad- 
vanced. With a given rate of surplus-value, and a given value of la- 
bour-power, therefore, the masses of surplus-value produced vary 
directly as the amounts of the variable capitals advanced. Now 
we know that the capitalist divides his capital into two parts. One 
part he lays out in means of production. This is the constant part 
of his capital. The other part he lays out in living labour-power. 
This part forms his variable capital. On the basis of the same mode 
of social production, the division of capital into constant and va- 
riable differs in different branches of production, and within the 
same branch of production, too, this relation changes with changes 
in the technical conditions and in the social combinations of the 
processes of production. But in whatever proportion a given capi- 
tal breaks up into a constant and a variable part, whether the lat- 
ter is to the former as 1 : 2 or 1 : 10 or 1 : x, the law just laid down 
is not affected by this. For, according to our previous analysis, the 
value of the constant capital re-appears in the value of the product, 
but does not enter into the newly produced value, the newly cre- 
ated value-product. To employ 1,000 spinners, more raw material, 
spindles, &c, are, of course, required, than to employ 100. The 
value of these additional means of production however, may rise, 
fall, remain unaltered, be large or small; it has no influence on 
the process of creation of surplus-value by means of the labour- 
powers that put them in motion. The law demonstrated above now, 
therefore, takes this form: the masses of value and of surplus-val- 
ue produced by different capitals — the value of labour-power be- 


ing given and its degree of exploitation being equal — vary di- 
rectly as the amounts of the variable constituents of these capi- 
tals , i.e. , as their constituents transformed into living labour-power. 

This law clearly contradicts all experience based on appear- 
ance. Everyone knows that a cotton spinner, who, reckoning the 
percentage on the whoie of his applied capital, employs much 
constant and little variable capital, does not, on account of this, 
pocket less profit or surplus-value than a baker, who relatively sets 
in motion much variable and little constant capital. For the so- 
lution of this apparent contradiction, many intermediate terms are 
as yet wanted, as from the standpoint of elementary algebra many 
intermediate terms are wanted to understand that -y may represent 
an actual magnitude. Classical economy, although not formulating 
the law, holds instinctively to it, because it is a necessary conse- 
quence of the general law of value. It tries to rescue the law from 
collision with contradictory phenomena by a violent abstraction. 
It will be seen later 1 how the school of Ricardo has come to grief 
over this stumbling-block. Vulgar economy which, indeed, "has 
really learnt nothing," here as everywhere sticks to appearances in 
opposition to the law which regulates and explains them. In oppo- 
sition to Spinoza, it believes that "ignorance is a sufficient reason." 

The labour which is set in motion by the total capital of a so- 
ciety, day in, day out, may be regarded as a single collective work- 
ing-day. If, e.g., the number of labourers is a million, and the 
average working-day of a labourer is 10 hours, the social working- 
day consists of ten million hours. With a given length of this work- 
ing-day, whether its limits are fixed physically or socially, the 
mass of surplus-value can only be increased by increasing the num- 
ber of labourers, i.e., of the labouring population. The growth of 
population here forms the mathematical limit to the production 
of surplus-value by the total social capital. On the contrary, with 
a given amount of population, this limit is formed by the possi- 
ble lengthening of the working-day. 2 It will, however, be seen in 
the following chapter that this law only holds for the form of sur- 
plus-value dealt with up to the present. 

From the treatment of the production of surplus- value, so far, 
it follows that not every sum of money, or of value, is at pleasure 

1 Further particulars will be given in Book IV. 

2 "The Labour, that is the economic time, of society, is a given portion, 
say ten hours a day of a million of people, or ten million hours.... Capital 
has its boundary of increase. This boundary may, at any given period, be 
attained in the actual extent of economic time employed." ("An Essay on 
the Political Economy of Nations." London, 1821, pp. 47, 49.) 


transformable into capital. To effect this transformation, in fact, 
a certain minimum of money or of exchange-value must be pre-sup- 
posed in the hands of the individual possessor of money or commodi- 
ties. The minimum of variable capital is the cost price of a single 
labour-power, employed the whole year through, day in, day out, 
for the production of surplus-value. If this labourer were in posses- 
sion of his own means of production, and were satisfied to live as a 
labourer, he need not work beyond the time necessary for the re- 
production of his means of subsistence, say 8 hours a day. He would, 
besides, only require the means of production sufficient for 8 work- 
ing-hours. The capitalist, on the other hand, who makes him do, 
besides these 8 hours, say 4 hours' surplus-labour, requires an addi- 
tional sum of money for furnishing the additional means of produc- 
tion. On our supposition, however, he would have to employ two 
labourers in order to live, on the surplus-value appropriated daily, 
as well as, and no better than a labourer, i.e., to be able to satis- 
fy his necessary wants. In this case the mere maintenance of life 
would be the end of his production, not the increase of wealth; but 
this latter is implied in capitalist production. That he may live 
only twice as well as an ordinary labourer, and besides turn half 
of the surplus-value produced into capital, he would have to 
raise, with the number of labourers, the minimum of the capital 
advanced 8 times. Of course he can, like his labourer, take to work 
himself, participate directly in the process of production, but he is 
then only a hybrid between capitalist and labourer, a "small mas- 
ter." A certain stage of capitalist production necessitates that the 
capitalist be able to devote the whole of the time during which he 
functions as a capitalist, i.e., as personified capital, to the appro- 
priation and therefore control of the labour of others, and to the sell- 
ing of the products of this labour. 1 The guilds of the middle ages 

1 "The farmer cannot rely on his own labour, and if he does, I will 
maintain that he is a loser by it. His employment should be a general atten- 
tion to the whole: his thresher must be watched, or he will soon lose his wages 
in corn not threshed out; his mowers, reapers, &c, must be looked after; 
he must constantly go round his fences; he must see there is no neglect; 
which would be the case if he was confined to any one spot." ("An Inquiry 
into the Connexion between the Present Price of Provisions and the Size of 
Farms, &c. By a Farmer." London, 1773, p. 12.) This book is very inter- 
esting. In it the genesis of the "capitalist farmer" or "merchant farmer," as 
he is explicitly called, may be studied, and his self-glorification at the 
expense of the small farmer who has only to do with bare subsistence, be 
noted. "The class of capitalists are from the first partially, and they become 
ultimately completely, discharged from the necessity of the manual labour." 
("Textbook of Lectures on the Political Economy of Nations. By the Rev. 
Richard Jones." Hertford, 1852. Lecture III., p. 39.) 


therefore tried to prevent by force the transformation of the mas- 
ter of a trade into a capitalist, by limiting the number of labour- 
ers that could be employed by one master within a very small max- 
imum. The possessor of money or commodities actually turns into 
a capitalist in such cases only where the minimum sum advanced 
for production greatly exceeds the maximum of the middle ages. 
Here, as in natural science, is shown the correctness of the law 
discovered by Hegel (in his "Logic"), that merely quantitative 
differences beyond a certain point pass into qualitative changes. * 

The minimum of the sum of value that the individual posses- 
sor of money or commodities must command, in order to meta- 
morphose himself into a capitalist, changes with the different stages 
of development of capitalist production, and is at given stages dif- 
ferent in different spheres of production, according to their special 
and technical conditions. Certain spheres of production demand, 
even at the very outset of capitalist production, a minimum of 
capital that is not as yet found in the hands of single individuals. 
This gives rise partly to state subsidies to private persons, as in 
France in the time of Colbert, and as in many German states up to 
our own epoch; partly to the formation of societies with legal mo- 
nopoly for the exploitation of certain branches of industry and com- 
merce, the fore-runners of our modern joint-stock companies. 2 

Within the process of production, as we have seen, capital 
acquired the command overlabour, i.e., over functioning labour- 
power or the labourer himself. Personified capital, the capitalist 
takes care that the labourer does his work regularly and with the 
proper degree of intensity. 

Capital further developed into a coercive relation, which 
compels the working-class to do more work than the narrow round 
of its own life-wants prescribes. As a producer of the activity of 

1 The molecular theory of modern chemistry first scientifically worked 
out by Laurent and Gerhardt rests on no other law. (Addition to 3rd Edi- 
tion.) For the explanation of this statement, which is not very clear to non- 
chemists, we remark that the author speaks here of the homologous series 
of carbon compounds, first so named by G. Gerhardt in 1843, each series of 
which has its own general algebraic formula. Thus the series of paraffins: 
c n H 2n-f2 > that of the norma i alcohols: C n H 2n+2 0; of the normal fatty 
acids: C n H 2n O 2 and many others. In the above examples, by the simply 
quantitative addition of CH 2 to the molecular formula, a qualitatively differ- 
ent body is each time formed. On the share (overestimated by Marx) of Lau- 
rent and Gerhardt in the determination of this important fact see Kopp, "Ent 
wicklung der Chemie." Munchen, 1873, pp. 709, 716, and Schorlemmer, "The 
Rise and Development of Organic Chemistry." London, 1879, p. 54.— F. E. 

2 Martin Luther calls these kinds of institutions: "The Company Mo- 


others, as a pumper-out of surplus-labour and exploiter of labour- 
power, it surpasses in energy, disregard of bounds, recklessness 
and efficiency, all earlier systems of production based on directly 
compulsory labour. 

At first, capital subordinates labour on the basis of the tech- 
nical conditions in which it historically finds it. It does not, there- 
fore, change immediately the mode of production. The produc- 
tion of surplus-value— in the form hitherto considered by us — by 
means of simple extension of the working-day, proved, therefore, 
to be independent of any change in the mode of production itself. 
It was not less active in the old-fashioned bakeries than in the 
modern cotton factories. 

If we consider the process of production from the point of view 
of the simple labour-process, the labourer stands in relation to 
the means of production, not in their quality as capital, but as 
the mere means and material of his own intelligent productive 
activity. In tanning, e.g., he deals with the skins as his simple ob- 
ject of labour. It is not the capitalist whose skin he tans. But it 
is different as soon as we deal with the process of production from 
the point of view of the process of creation of surplus- value. The 
means of production are at once changed into means for the absorp- 
tion of the labour of others. It is now no longer the labourer that em- 
ploys the means of production, but the means of production that em- 
ploy the labourer. Instead of being consumed by him as material ele- 
ments of his productive activity, they consume him as the ferment 
necessary to their own life-process, and the life-process of capital 
consists only in its movement as value constantly expanding, con- 
stantly multiplying itself. Furnaces and workshops that stand idle 
by night, and absorb no living labour, are "a mere loss" to the capi- 
talist. Hence, furnaces and workshops constitute lawful claims 
upon the night-labour of the workpeople. The simple transforma- 
tion of money into the material factors of the process of produc- 
tion, into means of production, transforms the latter into a title and 
a right to the labour and surplus-labour of -others. An example 
will show, in conclusion, how this sophistication, peculiar to and 
characteristic of capitalist production, this complete inversion of 
the relation between dead and living labour, between value and 
the force that creates value, mirrors itself in the consciousness of 
capitalists. During the revolt of the English factory lords between 
1848 and 1850, "the head of one of the oldest and most respectable 
houses in the West of Scotland, Messrs. Carlile Sons & Co., of the 
linen and cotton thread factory at Paisley, a company which has 
now existed for about a century, which was in operation in 1752, 


and four generations of the same family have conducted it". . . 
this "very intelligent gentleman" then wrote a letter 1 in the Glas- 
gow Daily Mail of April 25th, 1849, with the title, "The relay sys- 
tem," in which among other things the following grotesquely naive 
passage occurs: "Let us now. . . see what evils will attend the lim- 
iting to 10 hours the working of the factory. . . . They amount to 
the most serious damage to the mill-owner's prospects and proper- 
ty. If he (i.e., his "hands") worked 12 hours before, and is limited 
to 10, then every 12 machines or spindles in his establishment 
shrink to 10, and should the works be disposed of, they will be 
valued only as 10, so that a sixth part would thus be deducted from 
the value of every factory in the country." 2 

To this West of Scotland bourgeois brain, inheriting the 
accumulated capitalistic qualities of "four generations," the value 
of the means of production, spindles, &c, is so inseparably mixed 
up with their property, as capital, to expand their own value, and 
to swallow up daily a definite quantity of the unpaid labour of oth- 
ers, that the head of the firm of Carlile & Co. actually imagines 
that if he sells his factory, not only will the value of the spindles 
be paid to him, but, in addition, their power of annexing surplus- 
value, not only the labour which is embodied in them, and is nec- 
essary to the production of spindles of this kind, but also the sur- 
plus-labour which they help to pump out daily from the brave 
Scots of Paisley, and for that very reason he thinks that with the 
shortening of the working-day by 2 hours, the selling-price of 12 
spinning machines dwindles to that of 10! 

1 Reports of Tnsp. of Fact., April 30th, 1849, p. 59. 

2 1. c, p. 60. Factory Inspector Stuart, himself a Scotchman, and in 
contrast to' the English Factory Inspectors, quite taken captive by the capi- 
talistic method of thinking, remarks expressly on this letter which he incor- 
porates in his report that it is "the most useful of the communications which 
any of the factory-owners working with relays have given to those engaged 
in the same trade, and which is the most calculated to remove the prejudices 
of such of them as have scruples respecting any change of the arrangement 
of the hours of work." 





That portion of the working-day which merely produces an 
equivalent for the value paid by the capitalist for his labour-power, 
has, up to this point, been treated by us as a constant magnitude, 
and such in fact it is, under given conditions of production and at 
a given stage in the economic development of society. Beyond 
this, his necessary labour-time, the labourer, we saw, could continue 
to work for 2, 3, 4, 6, &c, hours. The rate of surplus-value and the 
length of the working-day depended on the magnitude of this pro- 
longation. Though the necessary labour-time was constant, we saw, 
on the other hand, that the total working-day was variable. Now 
suppose we have a working-day whose length, and whose apportion- 
ment between necessary labour and surplus-labour, are given. Let 
the whole line a c, a b — c represent, for example, a working- 
day of 12 hours; the portion of a b 10 hours of necessary labour, and 
the portion b c 2 hours of surplus-labour. How now can the produc- 
tion of surplus-value be increased, i.e., how can the surplus-la- 
bour be prolonged, without, or independently of, any prolonga- 
tion of a c? 

Although the length of a c is given, b c appears to be capable 
of prolongation, if not by extension beyond its end c, which is 
also the end of the working-day a c, yet, at all events, by pushing 
back its starting-point b in the direction of a. Assume that b' — 
b in the line a b' b c is equal to half of b c 

a b' — b c 

or to one hour's labour-time. If now, in a c, the working-day of 
12 hours, we move the point b to b', b c becomes b' c; the sur- 
plus-labour increases by one half, from 2 hours to 3 hours, although 
the working-day remains as before at 12 hours. This extension of 
the surplus labour-time from b c to b' c, from 2 Jiours to 3 hours, 
is, however, evidently impossible, without a simultaneous con- 


traction of the necessary labour-time from a b into a b', from 10 
hours to 9 hours. The prolongation of the surplus-labour would cor- 
respond to a shortening of the necessary labour; or a portion of 
the labour-time previously consumed, in reality, for the labourer's 
own benefit, would be converted into labour-time for the benefit of 
the capitalist. There would be an alteration, not in the length of 
the working-day, but in its division into necessary labour-time and 
surplus labour-time. 

On the other hand, it is evident that the duration of the sur- 
plus-labour is given, when the length of the working-day, and the 
value of labour-power, are given. The value of labour-power, 
i.e., the labour-time requisite to produce labour-power, deter- 
mines the labour-time necessary for the reproduction of that value. 
If one working-hour be embodied in sixpence, and the value of a 
day's labour-power be five shillings, the labourer must work 10 
hours a day, in order to replace the value paid by capital for his 
labour-power, or to produce an equivalent for the value of his daily 
necessary means of subsistence. Given the value of these means of 
subsistence, the value of his labour-power is given; 1 and given the 
value of his labour-power, the duration of his necessary labour- 
time is given. The duration of the surplus-labour, however, is ar- 
rived at, by subtracting the necessary labour-time from the total 
working-day. Ten hours subtracted from twelve, leave two, and it 
is not easy to see, how, under the given conditions, the surplus-la- 
bour can possibly be prolonged beyond two hours. No doubt, the 
capitalist can, instead of five shillings, pay the labourer four shil- 
lings and sixpence or even less. For the reproduction of this value 
of four shillings and sixpence, nine hours' labour-time would suf- 
fice; and consequently three hours of surplus-labour, instead of two, 
would accrue to the capitalist, and the surplus-value would rise 
from one shilling to eighteenpence. This result, however, would be 

1 The value of his average daily wages is determined by what the la- 
bourer requires "so as to live, labour, and generate." (Wm. Petty: "Political 
Anatomy of Ireland," 1672, p. 64.) "The price of Labour is always consti- 
tuted of the price of necessaries ... whenever ... the labouring man's wages 
will not, suitably to his low rank and station, as a labouring man, support 
such a family as is often the lot of many of them to have," he does not receive 
proper wages. (J. Vanderlint, 1. c, p. 15.) "Le simple ouvrier, qui n'a que 
ses bras et son industrie, n'a rien qu'autant qu'il parvient a vendre a d'autres 
sa peine... En tout genre de travail il doit arriver, et il arrive en effet, que 
le salaire de l'ouvrier se borne a ce qui lui est necessaire pour lui procurer sa 
subsistance." (Turgot, "Reflexions, &c," CEuvres, ed. Daire t. I, p. 10.) "The 
price of the necessaries of life is, in fact, the cost of producing labour." 
(Malthus, "Inquiry into, &c, Rent," London, 1815, p. 48, note). 


obtained only by lowering the wages of the labourer below the val- 
ue of his labour-power. With the four shillings and sixpence which 
he produces in nine hours, he commands one-tenth less of the nec- 
essaries of life than before, and consequently the proper reproduc- 
tion of his labour-power is crippled. The surplus-labour would in 
this case be prolonged only by an overstepping of its normal lim- 
its; its domain would be extended only by a usurpation of part of 
the domain of necessary labour-time. Despite the important part 
which this method plays in actual practice, we are excluded from 
considering it in this place, by our assumption, that all commodi- 
ties, including labour-power, are bought and sold at their full val- 
ue. Granted this, it follows that the labour-time necessary for the 
production of labour-power, or for the reproduction of its value, 
cannot be lessened by a fall in the labourer's wages below the val- 
ue of his labour-power, but only by a fall in this value itself. Giv- 
en the length of the working-day, the prolongation of the surplus- 
labour must of necessity originate in the curtailment of the neces- 
sary labour-time; the latter cannot arise from the former. In the 
example we have taken, it is necessary that the value of labour- 
power should actually fall by one-tenth, in order that the necessary 
labour-time may be diminished by one-tenth, i.e., from ten hours 
to nine, and in order that the surplus-labour may consequently be 
prolonged from two hours to three. 

Such a fall in the value of labour-power implies, however, that 
the same necessaries of life which were formerly produced in ten 
hours, can now be produced in nine hours. But this is impossible 
without an increase in the productiveness of labour. For example, 
suppose a shoemaker, with given tools, makes in one working-day 
of twelve hours, one pair of boots. If he must make two pairs in the 
same time, the productiveness of his labour must be doubled; and 
this cannot be done, except by an alteration in his tools or in his 
mode of working, or in both. Hence, the conditions of production, 
i. e., his mode of production, and the labour-process itself, must be 
revolutionised. By increase in the productiveness of labour, we 
mean, generally, an alteration in the labour-process, of such a 
kind as to shorten the labour-time socially necessary for the pro- 
duction of a commodity, and to endow a given quantity of labour 
with the power of producing a greater quantity of use-value. 1 Hith- 

1 "Quando si perfezionano le arti, che non e altro che la scoperta di 
nuove vie, onde si possa compiere una manufattura con meno gente o (che 
e lo stesso) in minor tempo di prima." (Galiani, 1. c, p» 159.) "L'economie 
sur les frais de production ne peu done etre autre chose que l'economie sur 
a quantity de travail employe" pour produire." (Sismondi, "Etudes," t. I, p. 22.) 


erto in treating of surplus-value, arising from a simple prolonga- 
tion of the working-day, we have assumed the mode of production 
to be given and invariable. But when surplus-value has to be pro- 
duced by the conversion of necessary labour into surplus-labour, it 
by no means suffices for capital to take over the labour-process in 
the form under which it has been historically handed down, and then 
simply to prolong the duration of that process. The technical and 
social conditions of the process, and consequently the very mode of 
production must be revolutionised, before the productiveness of 
labour can be increased. By that means alone can the value of la- 
bour-power be made to sink, and the portion of the working-day 
necessary for the reproduction of that value, be shortened. 

The surplus-value produced by prolongation of the working- 
day, I call absolute surplus-value. On the other hand, the surplus- 
value arising from the curtailment of the necessary labour-time, 
and from the corresponding alteration in the respective lengths of 
the two components of the working-day, I call relative surplus- 

In order to effect a fall in the value of labour-power, the increase 
in the productiveness of labour must seize upon those branches 
of industry, whose products determine the value of labour-power, 
and consequently either belong to the class of customary means of 
subsistence, or are capable of supplying the place of those means. 
But the value of a commodity is determined, not only by the quan- 
tity of labour which the labourer directly bestows upon that com- 
modity, but also by the labour contained in the means of produc- 
tion. For instance, the value of a pair of boots depends, not only 
on the cobbler's labour, but also on the value of the leather, wax, 
thread, &c. Hence, a fall in the value of labour-power is also 
brought about by an increase in the productiveness of labour, and 
by a corresponding cheapening of commodities in those industries 
which supply the instruments of labour and the raw material, that 
form the material elements of the constant capital required for pro- 
ducing the necessaries of life. But an increase in the productiveness 
of labour in those branches of industry which supply neither the 
necessaries of life, nor the means of production for such neces- 
saries, leaves the value of labour-power undisturbed. 

The cheapened commodity, of course, causes only a pro tanto 
fall in the value of labour-power, a fall proportional to the extent 
of that commodity's employment in the reproduction of labour- 
power. Shirts, for instance, are a necessary means of subsistence, 
but are only one out of many. The totality of the necessaries of 
life consists, however, of various commodities, each the product of 


a distinct industry; and the value of each of those commodities 
enters as a component part into the value of labour-power. This 
latter value decreases with the decrease of the labour-time neces- 
sary for its reproduction; the total decrease being the sum of all the 
different curtailments of labour-time effected in those various and 
distinct industries. This general result is treated, here, as if it 
were the immediate result directly aimed at in each individual case. 
Whenever an individual capitalist cheapens shirts, for instance, 
by increasing the productiveness of labour, he by no means nec- 
essarily aims at reducing the value of labour-power and shorten- 
ing, pro tanto, the necessary labour-time. But it is only in so far 
as he ultimately contributes to this result, that he assists in rais- 
ing the general rate of surplus-value. 1 The general and necessary 
tendencies of capital must be distinguished from their forms of 

It is not our intention to consider, here, the way in which the 
laws, immanent in capitalist production, manifest themselves in 
the movements of individual masses of capital, where they assert 
themselves as coercive laws of competition, and are brought home 
to the mind and consciousness of the individual capitalist as the di- 
recting motives of his operations. But this much is clear; a scien- 
tific .analysis of competition is not possible, before we have a con- 
ception of the inner nature of capital, just as the apparent motions 
of the heavenly bodies are not intelligible to any but him, who is 
acquainted with their real motions, motions which are not direct- 
ly perceptible by the senses. Nevertheless, for the better compre- 
hension of the production of relative surplus-value, we may add the 
following remarks, in which we assume nothing more than the re- 
sults we have already obtained. 

If one hour's labour is embodied in sixpence, a value of six 
shillings will be produced in a working-day of 12 hours. Suppose, 
that with the prevailing productiveness of labour, 12 articles are 
produced in these 12 hours. Let the value of the means of produc- 
tion used up in each article be sixpence. Under these circum- 
stances, each article costs one shilling: sixpence for the value of the 
means of production, and sixpence for the value newly added in 
working with those means. Now let some one capitalist contrive 
to double the productiveness of labour, and to produce in the work- 

1 "Let us suppose ... the products ... of the manufacturer are doubled 
by improvement in machinery ... he will be able to clothe his workmen by 
means of a smaller proportion of the entire return ... and thus his profit 
will be raised. But in no other way will it be influenced." (Ramsay. 1. c. pp. 
168, 169.) 


ing-day of 12 hours, 24 instead of 12 such articles. The value of 
the means of production remaining the same, the value of each ar- 
ticle will fall to ninepence, made up of sixpence for the value of the 
means of production and threepence for the value newly added by 
the labour. Despite the doubled productiveness of labour, the day's 
labour creates, as before, a new value of six shillings and no more, 
which, however, is now spread over twice as many articles. Of 

1 1 

this value each article now has embodied in it^th, instead of^th, 

threepence instead of sixpence; or, what amounts to the same thing, 
only half an hour's instead of a whole hour's labour-time, is now 
added to the means of production while they are being transformed 
into each article. The individual value of these articles is now 
below their social value; in other words, they have cost less labour- 
time than the great bulk of the same article produced under the 
average social conditions. Each article costs, on an average, one 
shilling, and represents 2 hours of social labour; but under the al- 
tered mode of production it costs only ninepence, or contains only 

1— hours' labour. The real value of a commodity is, however, not 

its individual value, but its social value; that is to say, the real 
value is not measured by the labour-time that the article in each 
individual case costs the producer, but by the labour-time socially 
required for its production. If therefore, the capitalist who applies 
the new method, sells his commodity at its social value of one shil- 
ling, he sells it for threepence above its individual value, and thus 
realises an extra surplus-value of threepence. On the other hand, the 
working-day of 12 hours is, as regards him, now represented by 24 
articles instead of 12. Hence, in order to get rid of the product of 
one working-day, the demand must be double what it was, i.e., the 
market must become twice as extensive. Other things being equal, 
his commodities can command a more extended market only by 
a diminution of their prices. He will therefore sell them above their 
individual but under their social value, say at tenpence each. 
By this means he still squeezes an extra surplus-value of one penny 
out of each. This augmentation of surplus-value is pocketed by him, 
whether his commodities belong or not to the class of necessary 
means of subsistence that participate in determining the general 
value of labour-power. Hence, independently of this latter circum- 
stance, there is a motive for each individual capitalist to cheap- 
en his commodities, by increasing the productiveness of labour. 
Nevertheless, even in this case, the increased production of 
surplus-value arises from the curtailment of the necessary labour- 


time, and from the corresponding prolongation of the surplus-la- 
bour. 1 Let the necessary labour-time amount to 10 hours, the val- 
ue of a day's labour-power to five shillings, the surplus labour- 
time to 2 hours, and the daily surplus-value to one shilling. But 
the capitalist now produces 24 articles, which he sells at tenpence 
a-piece, making twenty shillings in all. Since the value of the 

means of production is twelve shillings, 14-p-of these articles mere- 
ly replace the constant capital advanced. The labour of the 12 
hours' working-day is represented by the remaining 9— articles. 

Since the price of the labour-power is five shillings, 6 articles repre- 

sent the necessary labour-time, and 3— articles the surplus-labour. 

The ratio of the necessary labour to the surplus-labour, which un- 
der average social conditions was 5:1, is now only 5:3. The same 
result may be arrived at in the following way. The value of the 
product of the working-day of 12 hours is twenty shillings. Of this 
sum, twelve shillings belong to the value of the means of produc- 
tion, a value that merely re-appears. There remain eight shillings, 
which are the expression in money, of the value newly created dur- 
ing the working-day. This sum is greater than the sum in which 
average social labour of the same kind is expressed: twelve hours of 
the latter labour are expressed by six shillings only. The excep- 
tionally productive labour operates as intensified labour; it creates 
in equal periods of time greater values than average social labour 
of the same kind. (See Ch. I. Sect. 2. p. 44.) But our capitalist still 
continues to pay as before only five shillings as the value of a day's 
labour-power. Hence, instead of 10 hours, the labourer need now 

work only 7-p- hours, in order to reproduce this value. His sur- 

plus-labour is, therefore, increased by 2-r- hours, and the surplus- 
value he produces grows from one, into three shillings. Hence, the 
capitalist who applies the improved method of production, appro- 
priates to surplus-labour a greater portion of the working-day, than 
the other capitalists in the same trade. He does individually, what 
the whole body of capitalists engaged in producing relative sur- 

1 "A man's profit does not depend upon his command of the produce 
of other men's labour, but upon his command of labour itself. If he can sell 
his goods at a higher price, while his workmen's wages remain unaltered, he 
is clearly benefited.... A smaller proportion of what he produces is sufficient 
to put that labour into motion, and a larger proportion 1 consequently re- 
mains for himself." ("Outlines of Pol. Econ." London, 1832, pp. 49, 50.) 


plus-value, do collectively. On the other hand, however, this extra 
surplus-value vanishes, so soon as the new method of production 
has become general, and has consequently caused the difference be- 
tween the individual value of the cheapened commodity and its 
social value to vanish. The law of the determination of value by la- 
bour-time, a law which brings under its sway the individual capi- 
talist who applies the new method of production, by compelling 
him to sell his goods under their social value, this same law, 
acting as a coercive law of competition, forces his competitors to 
adopt the new method. x The general rate of surplus-value is, there- 
fore, ultimately affected by the whole process, only when the in- 
crease in the productiveness of labour, has seized upon those 
branches of production that are connected with, and has cheapened 
those commodities that form part of, the necessary means of subsist- 
ence, and are therefore elements of the value of labour-power. 
The value of commodities is in inverse ratio to the produc- 
tiveness of labour. And so, too, is the value of labour-power, be- 
cause it depends on the values of commodities. Relative surplus- 
value is, on the contrary, directly proportional to that productive- 
ness. It rises with rising and falls with falling productiveness. 
The value of money being assumed to be constant, an average so- 
cial working-day of 12 hours always produces the same new value, 
six shillings, no matter how this sum may be apportioned between 
surplus-value and wages. But if, in consequence of increased pro- 
ductiveness, the value of the necessaries of life fall, and the 
value of a day's labour-power be thereby reduced from five shillings 
to three, the surplus-value increases from one shilling to three. 
Ten hours were necessary for the reproduction of the value of the 
labour-power; now only six are required. Four hours have 
been set free, and can be annexed to the domain of surplus- 
labour. Hence there is immanent in capital an inclination and 
constant tendency, to heighten the productiveness of labour, in 
order to cheapen commodities, and by such cheapening to cheapen 
the labourer himself. 2 

1 "If my neighbour by doing much with little labour, can sell cheap, 
I must contrive to sell as cheap as he. So that every art, trade, or engine, 
doing work with labour of fewer hands, and consequently cheaper, begets 
in others a kind of necessity and emulation, either of using the same art, 
trade, or engine, or of inventing something like it, that every maD may be 
upon the square, that no man may be able to undersell his neighbour." 
("The Advantages of the East India Trade to England." London, 1720, p. 67.) 

2 "In whatever proportion the expenses of a labourer are diminished, 
in the same proportion will his wages be diminished, if the restraints upon 
industry are at the same time taken off." ("Considerations Concerning Taking 


The value of a commodity is, in itself, of no interest to the cap- 
italist. What alone interests him, is the surplus-value that dwells 
in it, and is realisable by sale. Realisation of the surplus-value nec- 
essarily carries with it the refunding of the value that was ad- 
vanced. Now, since relative surplus-value increases in direct pro- 
portion to the development of the productiveness of labour, while, 
on the other hand, the value of commodities diminishes in the same 
proportion; since one and the same process cheapens commodities, 
and augments the surplus-value contained in them; we have here 
the solution of the riddle: why does the capitalist, whose sole con- 
cern is the production of exchange-value, continually strive to 
depress the exchange-value of commodities? A riddle with which 
Quesnay, one of the founders of Political Economy, tormented his 
opponents, and to which they could give him no answer. "You 
acknowledge," he says, "that the more expenses and the cost of la- 
bour can, in the manufacture of industrial products, be reduced 
without injury to production, the more advantageous is such reduc- 
tion, because it diminishes the price of the finished article. And 
yet, you believe that the production of wealth, which arises from 
the labour of the workpeople, consists in the augmentation of the 
exchange-value of their products." 1 

The shortening of the working-day is, therefore, by no means 
what is aimed at, in capitalist production, when labour is econo- 
mised by increasing its productiveness. 2 It is only the shorten- 
ing of the labour-time, necessary for the production of a definite 
quantity of commodities, that is aimed at. The fact that the work- 
man, when the productiveness of his labour has been increased, 

off the Bounty on Corn Exported," &c, Lond., 1753, p. 7.) "The interest of 
trade requires, that corn and all provisions should be as cheap as possible; 
for whatever makes them dear, must make labour dear also ... in all coun- 
tries, where industry is not restrained, the price of provisions must affect 
the price of labour. This will always be diminished when the necessaries of 
life grow cheaper." (1. c, p. 3.) "Wages are decreased in the same proportion 
as the powers of production increase. Machinery, it is true, cheapens the nec- 
essaries of life, but it also cheapens the labourer." ("A Prize Essay on the 
Comparative Merits of Competition and Co-operation." London, 1834, p. 27.) 

1 "lis conviennent que plus on peut, sans prejudice, epargner de frais 
ou de travaux dispendieux dans la fabrication des ouvrages des artisans, 
plus cette epargne est profitable par la diminution des prix de ces ouvrages. 
Cependant ils croient que la production de richesse qui resulte des travaux 
des artisans consiste dans l'augmentation de la valeur venale de leurs ou- 
vrages." (Quesnay: "Dialogues sur le Commerce et les Travaux des Artisans," 
pp. 188, 189.) 

2 "Ces speculatcurs si economes du travail des ouvriers qu'il faudrait 
qu'ils payassent." (J.N. Bidaut: "Du Monopole qui s'etablit dans les arts 
industriels et le commerce." Paris, 1828, p. 13.) "The employer will be always 


produces, say 10 times as many commodities as before, and thus 
spends one-tenth as much labour-time on each, by no means pre- 
vents him from continuing to work 12 hours as before, nor from pro- 
ducing in those 12 hours 1,200 articles instead of 120. Nay, more, 
his working-day may be prolonged at the same time, so as to make 
him produce, say 1,400 articles in 14 hours. In the treatises, there- 
fore, of economists of the stamp of MacCulloch, Ure, Senior, and 
tutti quanti, we may read upon one page, that the labourer owes 
a debt of gratitude to capital for developing his productiveness, 
because the necessary labour-time is thereby shortened, and on the 
next page, that he must prove his gratitude by working in future 
for 15 hours instead of 10. The object of all development of the pro- 
ductiveness of labour, within the limits of capitalist production, 
is to shorten that part of the working-day, during which the work- 
man must labour for his own benefit, and by that very shortening, 
to lengthen the other part of the day, during which he is at liberty 
to work gratis for the capitalist. How far this result is also attaina- 
ble, without cheapening commodities, will appear from an exami- 
nation of the particular modes of producing relative surplus- 
value, to which examination we now proceed. 

on the stretch to economise time and labour." (Dugald Stewart: Works ed. 
by Sir. W. Hamilton. Edinburgh, v. viii., 1855. "Lectures on Polit. Econ.," 
p. 318.) "Their (the capitalists') interest is that the productive powers of 
the labourers they employ should be the greatest possible. On promoting 
that power their attention is fixed and almost exclusively fixed." (R. Jones: 
1. c, Lecture ILL) 



Capitalist production only then really begins, as we have alrea- 
dy seen, when each individual capital employs simultaneously a 
comparatively large number of labourers; when consequently the 
labour-process is carried on on an extensive scale and yields, rel- 
atively, large quantities of products. A greater number of labour- 
ers working together, at the same time, in one place (or, if you 
will, in the same field of labour), in order to produce the same sort 
of commodity under the mastership of one capitalist, constitutes, 
both historically and logically, the starting-point of capitalist 
production. With regard to the mode of production itself, manufac- 
ture, in its strict meaning, is hardly to be distinguished, in its ear- 
liest stages, from the handicraft trades of the guilds, otherwise 
than by the greater number of workmen simultaneously employed 
by one and the same individual capital. The workshop of the mediae- 
val master handicraftsman is simply enlarged. 

At first, therefore, the difference is purely quantitative. We have 
shown that the surplus-value produced by a given capital is equal 
to the surplus-value produced by each workman multiplied by 
the number of workmen simultaneously employed. The number of 
workmen in itself does not affect, either the rate of surplus-value, 
or the degree of exploitation of labour-power. If a working-day of 
12 hours be embodied in six shillings, 1,200 such days will be 
embodied in 1,200 times 6 shillings. In one case 12 x 1,200 working- 
hours, and in the other 12 such hours are incorporated in the prod- 
uct. In the production of value a number of workmen rank merely 
as so many individual workmen; and it therefore makes no differ- 
ence in the value produced whether the 1,200 men work separately, 
or united under the control of one capitalist. 

Nevertheless, within certain limits, a modification takes place. 
The labour realised in value, is labour of an average social quality; 
is consequently the expenditure of average labour-power. Any 


average magnitude, however, is merely the average of a number of 
separate magnitudes all of one kind, but differing as to quantity. 
In every industry, each individual labourer, be he Peter or Paul, 
differs from the average labourer. These individual differences, or 
"errors" as they are called in mathematics, compensate one another, 
and vanish, whenever a certain minimum number of workmen are 
employed together. The celebrated sophist and sycophant, Edmund 
Burke, goes so far as to make the following assertion, based on his 
practical observations as a farmer; viz., that "in so small a platoon" 
as that of five farm labourers, all individual differences in the la- 
bour vanish, and that consequently any given five adult farm la- 
bourers taken together, will in the same time do as much work as 
any other five. 1 But, however that may be, it is clear, that the col- 
lective working-day of a large number of workmen simultaneously 
employed, divided by the number of these workmen, gives one day 
of average social labour. For example, let the working-day of each 
individual be 12 hours. Then the collective working-day of 12 men 
simultaneously employed, consists of 144 hours; and although the 
labour of each of the dozen men may deviate more or less from av- 
erage social labour, each of them requiring a different time for the 
same operation, yet since the working-day of each is one-twelfth 
of the collective working-day of 144 hours, it possesses the quali- 
ties of an average social working-day. From the point of view, 
however, of the capitalist who employs these 12 men, the working- 
day is that of the whole dozen. Each individual man's day is an 
aliquot part of the collective working-day, no matter whether the 
12 men assist one another in their work, or whether the connex- 
ion between their operations consists merely in the fact, that the 
men are all working for the same capitalist. But if the 12 
men are employed in six pairs, by as many different small 
masters, it will be quite a matter of chance, whether each of these 
masters produces the same value, and consequently whether he 
realises the general rate of surplus-value. Deviations would occur 

1 "Unquestionably, there is a good deal of difference between the value 
of one man's labour and that of another from strength, dexterity, and honest 
application. But I am quite sure, from my best observation, that any given 
five men will, in their total, afford a proportion of labour equal to any other 
five within the periods of life I have stated; that is, that among such five 
men there will be one possessing all the qualifications of a good workman, 
one bad, and the other three middling, and approximating to the first and 
the last. So that in so small a platoon as that of even five, you will find the 
full complement of all that five men can earn." (E. Burke, 1. c, pp. 15, 16.) 
Compare Quetelet on the average individual. 


in individual cases. If one workman required considerably more 
time for the production of a commodity than is socially necessary, 
the duration of the necessary labour-time would, in his case, sen- 
sibly deviate from the labour-time socially necessary on an aver- 
age; and consequently his labour would not count as average la- 
bour, nor his labour-power as average labour-power. It would ei- 
ther be not saleable at all, or only at something below the average 
value of labour-power. A fixed minimum of efficiency in all la- 
bour is therefore assumed, and we shall see, later on, that capital- 
ist production provides the means of fixing this minimum. Nev- 
ertheless, this minimum deviates from the average, although on 
the other hand the capitalist has to pay the average value of labour- 
power. Of the six small masters, one would therefore squeeze out 
more than the average rate of surplus-value, another less. The ine- 
qualities would be compensated for the society at large, but not for 
the individual masters. Thus the laws of the production of value are 
only fully realised for the individual producer, when he produces 
as a capitalist, and employs a number of workmen together, whose 
labour, by its collective nature, is at once stamped as average so- 
cial labour. * 

Even without an alteration in the system of working, the 
simultaneous employment of a large number of labourers effects a 
revolution in the material conditions of the labour-process. The 
buildings in which they work, the store-houses for the raw mate- 
rial, the implements and utensils used simultaneously or in turns 
by the workmen; in short, a portion of the. means of production, 
are now consumed in common. On the one hand, the exchange-val- 
ue of these means of production is not increased; for the exchange- 
value of a commodity is not raised by its use-value being consumed 
more thoroughly and to greater advantage. On the other hand, 
they are used in common, and therefore on a larger scale than be- 
fore. A room where twenty weavers work at twenty looms must be 
larger than the room of a single weaver with two assistants. But it 
costs less labour to build one workshop for twenty persons than to 
build ten to accommodate two weavers each; thus the value of the 
means of production that are concentrated for use in common on 
a large scale does not increase in direct proportion to the expan- 
sion and to the increased useful effect of those means. When con- 

1 Professor Roscher claims to have discovered that one needlewoman 
employed by Mrs. Roscher during two days, does more work than two needle- 
women employed together during one day. The learned professor should not 
study the capitalist process of production in the nursery, nor under circum- 
stances where the principal personage, the capitalist, is wanting. 


sumed in common, they give up a smaller part of their value to 
each single product; partly because the total value they part with 
is spread over a greater quantity of products, and partly because 
their value, though absolutely greater, is, having regard to their 
sphere of action in the process, relatively less than the value of 
isolated means of production. Owing to this, the value of a part of 
the constant capital falls, and in proportion to the magnitude of 
the fall, the total value of the commodity also falls. The effect is 
the same as if the means of production had cost less. The economy 
in their application is entirely owing to their being consumed in 
common by a large number of workmen. Moreover, this character 
of being necessary conditions of social labour, a character that 
distinguishes them from the dispersed and relatively more costly 
means of production of isolated, independent labourers, or small 
masters, is acquired even when the numerous workmen assembled 
together do not assist one another, but merely work side by side. 
A portion of the instruments of labour acquires this social charac- 
ter before the labour-process itself does so. 

Economy in the use of the means of production has to be con- 
sidered under two aspects. First, as cheapening commodities, and 
thereby bringing about a fall in the value of labour-power. Second- 
ly, as altering the ratio of the surplus-value to the total capital ad- 
vanced, i.e., to the sum of the values of the constant and variable 
capital. The latter aspect will not be considered until we come to 
the third book, to which, with the object of treating them in their 
proper connexion, we also relegate many other points that relate 
to the present question. The march of our analysis compels this 
splitting up of the subject-matter, a splitting up that is quite in 
keeping with the spirit of capitalist production. For since, in this 
mode of production, the workman finds the instruments of labour 
existing independently of him as another man's property, economy 
in their use appears, with regard to him, to be a distinct operation, 
one that does not concern him, and which, therefore, has no con- 
nexion with the methods by which his own personal productiveness 
is increased. 

When numerous labourers work together side by side, wheth- 
er in one and the same process, or in different but connected proc- 
esses, they are said to co-operate, or to work in co-operation. * 

Just as the offensive power of a squadron of cavalry, or the de- 
fensive power of a regiment of infantry, is essentially different 
from the sum of the offensive or defensive powers of the individual 

"Concours de forces." (Destutt de Tracy, 1. c, p. 80.) 


cavalry or infantry soldiers taken separately, so the sum total of 
the mechanical forces exerted by isolated workmen differs from the 
social force that is developed, when many hands take part simul- 
taneously in one and the same undivided operation, such as rais- 
ing a heavy weight, turning a winch, or removing an obstacle. * In 
such cases the effect of the combined labour could either not be pro- 
duced at all by isolated individual labour, or it could only be pro- 
duced by a great expenditure of time, or on a very dwarfed scale. 
Not only have we here an increase in the productive power of the 
individual, by means of co-operation, but the creation of a new 
power, namely, the collective power of masses. 2 

Apart from the new power that arises from the fusion of many 
forces into one single force, mere social contact begets in most in- 
dustries an emulation and a stimulation of the animal spirits that 
heighten the efficiency of each individual workman. Hence it is 
that a dozen persons working together will, in their collective 
working-day of 144 hours, produce far more than twelve isolated 
men each working 12 hours, or than one man who works twelve 
days in succession. 3 The reason of this is that man is, if not as Aris- 
totle contends, a political, 4 at all events a social animal. 

1 "There are numerous operations of so simple a kind as not to admit 
a division into parts, which cannot be performed without the co-operation 
of many pairs of hands. I would instance the lifting of a large tree on to a 
wain ... everything, in short, which cannot be done unless a great many pairs 
of hands help each other in the same undivided employment and at the same 
time" (E. G. Wakefield: "A View of the Art of Colonisation." London, 1849, 
p. 168). 

2 "As one man cannot, and ten men must strain to lift a tou of weight, 
yet 100 men can do it only by the strength of a finger of each of them." 
(John Bellers: "Proposals for Raising a Golledge of Industry." London, 1696. 
p. 21.) 

8 "There is also" (when the same number of men are employed by one 
farmer on 300 acres, instead of by ten farmers with 30 acres a piece) "an ad- 
vantage in the proportion of servants, which will not so easily be under- 
stood but by practical men; for it is natural to say, as 1 is to 4, so are 3 
to 12: but this will not hold good in practice; for in harvest time and many 
other operations which require that kind of despatch by the throwing many 
hands together, the work is better and more expeditiously done: f. i. in har- 
vest, 2 drivers, 2 loaders, 2 pitchers, 2 rakers, and the rest at the rick, or 
in the barn, will despatch double the work that the same number of hands 
would do if divided into different gangs on different farms." ("An Inquiry 
into the Connexion between the Present Price of Provisions and the Size 
of Farms." By a Farmer. London, 1773, pp. 7, 8.) 

4 Strictly, Aristotle's definition is that man is by nature a town-cit- 
izen. This is quite as characteristic of ancient classical society as Franklin's 
definition of man, as a tool-making animal, is characteristic of Yankeedom. 


Although a number of men may be occupied together at the same 
time on the same, or the same kind of work, yet the labour of each, 
as a part of the collective labour, may correspond to a distinct 
phase of the labour-process, through all whose phases, in conse- 
quence of co-operation, the subject of their labour passes with great- 
er speed. For instance, if a dozen masons place themselves in a row, 
so as to pass stones from the foot of a ladder to its summit, each of 
them does the same thing; nevertheless, their separate acts form 
connected parts of one total operation; they are particular phases, 
which must be gone through by each stone; and the stones are thus 
carried up quicker by the 24 hands of the row of men than they 
could be if each man went separately up and down the ladder with 
his burden. 1 The object is carried over the same distance in a short- 
er time. Again, a combination of labour occurs whenever a build- 
ing, for instance, is taken in hand on different sides simultaneously; 
although here also the co-operating masons are doing the same, or 
the same kind of work. The 12 masons, in their collective working- 
day of 144 hours, make much more progress with the building than 
one mason could make working for 12 days, or 144 hours. The rea- 
son is, that a body of men working in concert has hands and eyes 
both before and behind, and is, to a certain degree, omnipresent. 
The various parts of the work progress simultaneously. 

In the above instances we have laid stress upon the point that 
the men do the same, or the same kind of work, because this, 
the most simple form of labour in common, plays a great part in 
co-operation, even in its most fully developed stage. If the work be 
complicated, then the mere number of the men who co-operate 
allows of the various operations being apportioned to different 
hands, and, consequently, of being carried on simultaneously. The 
time necessary for the completion of the whole work is thereby 
shortened. 2 

1 "On doit encore remarquer que cette division partielle de travail 
peut se faire quand meme les ouvriers sont occupes d'une meme besogne. 
Des macons par exemple, occupes a faire passer de mains en mains des bn- 
ques a un echafaudage superieur, font tous la meme besogne, et pourtant ll 
existe parmi eux une espece de division de travail, qui consiste en ce que 
chacun d'eux fait passer la brique par unespace donne et que tous ensemble 
la font parvenir beaucoup plus promptement a l'endroit marque qu lis ne 
le feraient si chacun d'eux portait sa brique separement jusqu a 1 echaiauaage 
superieur." (F. Skarbek: "Theorie des richesses sociales." Pans, 18.39, t. I, 
pp. 97, 98.) , , 

2 "Est-il question d'executer un travail complique, plusieurs choses 
doiveut etre faites simultanement. L'un en fait une pendant que I autre en 
fait une autre, et tous contribuent a l'effet qu'un seul homme n aurait pu 


In many industries, there are critical periods, determined by 
the nature of the process, during which certain definite results 
must be obtained. For instance, if a flock of sheep has to be shorn, 
or a field of wheat to be cut and harvested, the quantity and qual- 
ity of the product depends on the work being begun and ended 
within a certain time. In these cases, the time that ought to be 
taken by the process is prescribed, just as it is in herring fishing. 
A single person cannot carve a working-day of more than, say 12 
hours, out of the natural day, but 100 men co-operating extend the 
working-day to 1,200 hours. The shortness of the time allowed for 
the work is compensated for by the large mass of labour thrown 
upon the field of production at the decisive moment. The comple- 
tion of the task within the proper time depends on the simultane- 
ous application of numerous combined working-days; the amount 
of useful effect depends on the number of labourers; this number, 
however, is always smaller than the number of isolated labourers 
required to do the same amount of work in the same period. 1 
It is owing to the absence of this kind of co-operation that, in the 
western part of the United States, quantities of corn, and in those 
parts of East India where English rule has destroyed the old com- 
munities, quantities of cotton, are yearly wasted. 2 

On the one hand, co-operation allows of the work being car- 
ried on over an extended space; it is consequently imperatively 
called for in certain undertakings, such as draining, constructing 
dykes, irrigation works, and the making of canals, roads and rail- 
ways. On the other hand, while extending the scale of production, 
it renders possible a relative contraction of the arena. This contrac- 

produire. L'un rame pendant que l'autre tient le gouvernail, et qu'un troi- 
sieme jette le filet ou harponne le poisson, et la peche a un succes impossible 
sans ce concours." (Destutt de Tracy, 1. c.) 

1 "The doing of it (agricultural work) at the critical juncture is of so 
much the greater consequence." ("An Inquiry into the Connexion between the 
Present Price," &c, p. 9.) "In agriculture, there is no more important factor 
than that of time." (Liebig: "Ueber Theorie und Praxis in der Landwirt- 
schaft." 1856, p. 23.) 

2 "The next evil is one which one would scarcely expect to find in a 
country which exports more labour than any other in the world, with the 
exception, perhaps, of China and England-^the impossibility of procuring 
a sufficient number of hands to clean the cotton. The consequence of this 
is that large quantities of the crop are left unpicked, while another portion is 
gathered from the ground when it has fallen, and is of course discoloured and 
partially rotted, so that for want of labour at the proper season the culti- 
vator is actually forced to submit to the loss of a large part of that crop for 
which England is so anxiously looking." ("Bengal Hurkaru." Bi-Monthly 
Overland Summary of News, 22nd July, 1861.) 


tion of arena simultaneous with, and arising from, extension of 
scale, whereby a number of useless expenses are cut down, is owing 
to the conglomeration of labourers, to the aggregation of various 
processes, and to the concentration of the means of production. l 

The" combined working-day produces, relatively to an equal 
sum of isolated working-days, a greater quantity of use-values, 
and, consequently, diminishes the labour-time necessary for the 
production of a given useful effect. Whether the combined work- 
ing-day, in a given case, acquires this increased productive power, 
because it heightens the mechanical force of labour, or extends its 
sphere of action over a greater space, or contracts the field of produc- 
tion relatively to the scale of production, or at the critical moment 
sets large masses of labour to work, or excites emulation between 
individuals and raises their animal spirits, or impresses on the sim- 
ilar operations carried on by a number of men the stamp of con- 
tinuity and many-sidedness, or performs simultaneously different 
operations, or economises the means of production by use in com- 
mon, or lends to individual labour the character of average social 
labour— whichever of these be the cause of the increase, the spe- 
cial productive power of the combined working-day is, under all 
circumstances, the social productive power of labour, or the produc- 
tive power of social labour. This power is due to co-operation it- 
self. When the labourer co-operates systematically with others, he 
strips off the fetters of his individuality, and develops the ca- 
pabilities of his species. 2 

As general rule, labourers cannot co-operate without being 
brought together: their assemblage in one place is a necessary 
condition of their co-operation. Hence wage-labourers cannot co- 
operate, unless they are employed simultaneously by the same cap- 
ital, the same capitalist, and unless therefore their labour-powers 
are bought simultaneously by him. The total value of these la- 

1 In the progress of culture "all, and perhaps more than all, the capital 
and labour which once loosely occupied 500 acres, are now concentrated 
for the more complete tillage of 100." Although "relatively to the amount of 
capital and labour employed, space is concentrated, it is an enlarged sphere 
of production, as compared to the sphere of production formerly occupied 
or worked upon by one single independent agent of production." (R. Jones: 
"An Essay on the Distribution of Wealth," part I. On Rente London, 1831, 

P- 191 -) 

2 "La lorza di ciascuno uomo e minima, ma la riunione delle minime 
forze forma una forza totale maggiore anche della somma delle forze mede- 
si me fino a che le forze per essere ri unite possono diminuere il tempo ed accres- 
cere lo spazio della loro azione." (G. R. Garli, Note to P. Verri, 1. c, t. xv., 
p. 196.) 


bour-powers, or the amount of the wages of these labourers for a day, 
or a week, as the case may be, must be ready in the pocket of 
the capitalist, before the workmen are assembled for the proc- 
ess of production. The payment of 300 workmen at once, though 
only for one day, requires a greater outlay of capital, than does 
the payment of a smaller number of men, week by week, during a 
whole year. Hence the number of the labourers that co-operate, or 
the scale of co-operation, depends, in the first instance, on the 
amount of capital that the individual capitalist can spare for 
the purchase of labour-power; in other words, on the extent to 
which a single capitalist has command over the means of subsist- 
ence of a number of labourers. 

And as with the variable, so it is with the constant capital. 
For example, the outlay on raw material is 30 times as great, for 
the capitalist who employs 300 men, as it is for each of the 30 cap- 
italists who employ 10 men. The value and quantity of the in- 
struments of labour used in common do not, it is true, increase 
at the same rate as the number of workmen, but they do increase 
very considerably. Hence, concentration of large masses of 
the means of production in the hands of individual capitalists, 
is a material condition for the co-operation of wage-labour- 
ers, and the extent of the co-operation or the scale of production, 
depends on the extent of this concentration. 

We saw in a former chapter, that a certain minimum amount 
of capital was necessary, in order that the number of labourers 
simultaneously employed, and, consequently, the amount of 
surplus-value produced, might suffice to liberate the employer 
himself from manual labour, to convert him from a small master 
into a capitalist, and thus formally to establish capitalist produc- 
tion. We now see that a certain minimum amount is a necessary 
condition for the conversion of numerous isolated and independent 
processes into one combined social process. 

We also saw that at first, the subjection of labour to capital 
was only a formal result of the fact, that the labourer, instead of 
working for himself, works for and consequently under the capital- 
ist. By the co-operation of numerous wage-labourers, the sway of 
capital develops into a requisite for carrying on the labour-proc- 
ess itself, into a real requisite of production. That a capitalist 
should command on the field of production, is now as indispensa- 
ble as that a general should command on the field of battle. 

All combined labour on a large scale requires, more or less, a 
directing authority, in order to secure the harmonious working of 
the individual activities, and to perform the general functions 


that have their origin in the action of the combined organism, as 
distinguished from the action of its separate organs. A single vio- 
lin player is his own conductor; an orchestra requires a sep- 
arate one. The work of directing, superintending, and adjusting, 
becomes one of the functions of capital, from the moment that the 
labour under the control of capital, becomes co-operative. Once a 
function of capital, it acquires special characteristics. 

The directing motive, the end and aim of capitalist produc- 
tion, is to extract the greatest possible amount of surplus-value, 1 
and consequently to exploit labour-power to the greatest possible 
extent. As the number of the co-operating labourers increases, so 
too does their resistance to the domination of capital, and with it, 
the necessity for capital to overcome this resistance by counter- 
pressure. The control exercised by the capitalist is not only a spe- 
cial function, due to the nature of the social labour-process, and 
peculiar to that process, but it is, at the same time, a function of 
the exploitation of a social labour-process, and is consequently 
rooted in the unavoidable antagonism between the exploiter and 
the living and labouring raw material he exploits. 

Again, in proportion to the increasing mass of the means of 
production, now no longer the property of the labourer, but of 
the capitalist, the necessity increases for some effective control 
over the proper application of those means. 2 Moreover, the co-op- 
eration of wage-labourers is entirely brought about by the capital 
that employs them. Their union into one single productive body 
and the establishment of a connexion between their individual 
functions, are matters foreign and external to them, are not their 
own act, but the act of the capital that brings and keeps them to- 
gether. Hence the connexion existing between their various labours 
appears to them, ideally, in the shape of a preconceived plan 
of the capitalist, and practically in the shape of the authority of 
the same capitalist, in the shape of the powerful will of another, 
who subjects their activity to his aims. If, then, the control of the 

1 "Profits ... is the sole end of trade." (J. Vanderlint, 1. c, p. 11.) 

2 That Philistine paper, the Spectator, states that after the introduc- 
tion of a sort of partnership between capitalist and workmen in the "Wire- 
work Company of Manchester," "the first result was a sudden decrease in 
waste, the men not seeing why they should waste their own property any more 
than any other master's, and waste is, perhaps, next to bad debts, the greatest 
source of manufacturing loss." The same paper finds that the main defect in 
the Rochdale co-operative experiments is this: "They showed that associa- 
tions of workmen could manage shops, mills, and almost all forms of indus- 
try with success, and they immediately improved the condition of the men 
but then they did not leave a clear place for masters." Quelle horreur! 


capitalist is in substance two-fold by reason of the two-fold nature 
of the process of production itself,— which, on the one hand, is a 
social process for producing use-values, on the other, a process 
for creating surplus-value — in form that control is despotic. As 
co-operation extends its scale, this despotism takes forms peculiar 
to itself. Just as at first the capitalist is relieved from actual la- 
bour so soon as his capital has reached that minimum amount 
with which capitalist production, as such, begins, so now, he hands 
over the work of direct and constant supervision of the individual 
workmen, and groups of workmen, to a special kind of wage-la- 
bourer. An industrial army of workmen, under the command of a 
capitalist, requires, like a real army, officers (managers), and ser- 
geants (foremen, overlookers), who, while the work is being done, 
command in the name of the capitalist. The work of supervision 
becomes their established and exclusive function. When com- 
paring the mode of production of isolated peasants and artisans 
with production by slave-labour, the political economist counts 
this labour of superintendence among the faux frais of production. * 
But, when considering the capitalist mode of production, he, on 
the contrary, treats the work of control made necessary by the co- 
operative character of the labour-process as identical with the dif- 
ferent work of control, necessitated by the capitalist character of 
that process and the antagonism of interests between capitalist 
and labourer. 2 It is not because he is a leader of industry that a 
man is a capitalist; on the contrary, he is a leader of industry be- 
cause he is a capitalist. The leadership of industry is an attribute 
of capital, just as in feudal times the functions of general and 
judge, were attributes of landed property. 3 

The labourer is the owner of his labour-power until he has done 
bargaining for its sale with the capitalist; and he can sell no more 
than what he has — i.e., his individual, isolated labour-power. 

1 Professor Cairnes, after stating that the superintendence of labour is 
a leading feature of production by slaves in the Southern States of North 
America, continues: "The peasant proprietor (of the North), appropriating 
the whole produce of his toil, needs no other stimulus to exertion. Superin- 
tendence is here completely dispensed with." (Cairnes, 1. c, pp. 48, 49.) 

2 Sir James Steuart, a writer altogether remarkable for his quick eye 
lor the characteristic social distinctions between different modes of produc- 
tion, says: "Why do large undertakings in the manufacturing way ruin 
private industry, but by coming nearer to the simplicity of slaves?" ("Prin. 
of Pol. Econ.," London, 1767, v. I., pp. 167, 168.) 

3 Auguste Comte and his school might therefore, have shown that feu- 
dal lords are an eternal necessity in the same way that they have done in 
the case of the lords of capital. 


This state of things is in no way altered by the fact that the capi- 
talist, instead of buying the labour-power of one man, buys that of 
100, and enters into separate contracts with 100 unconnected men 
instead of with one. He is at liberty to set the 100 men to work, 
without letting them co-operate. He pays them the value of 100 
independent labour-powers, but he does not pay for the combined 
labour-power of the hundred. Being independent of each other, 
the labourers are isolated persons, who enter into relations with the 
capitalist, but not with one another. This co-operation begins only 
with the labour-process, but they have then ceased to belong to 
themselves. On entering that process, they become incorporated 
with capital. As co-operators, as members of a working organism, 
they are but special modes of existence of capital. Hence, the pro- 
ductive power developed by the labourer when working in co-oper- 
ation, is the productive power of capital. This power is developed 
gratuitously, whenever the workmen are placed under given con- 
ditions, and it is capital that places them under such conditions. 
Because this power costs capital nothing, and because, on the oth- 
er hand, the labourer himself does not develop it before his la- 
bour belongs to capital, it appears as a power with which capital is 
endowed by Nature— a productive power that is immanent in 

The colossal effects of simple co-operation are to be seen in 
the gigantic structures of the ancient Asiatics, Egyptians, Etrus- 
cans, &c. "It has happened in times past that these Oriental States, 
after supplying the expenses of their civil and military establish- 
ments, have found themselves in possession of a surplus which they 
could apply to works of magnificence or utility and in the con- 
struction of these their command over the hands and arms of almost 
the entire non-agricultural population has produced stupendous 
monuments which still indicate their power. The teeming valley 
of the Nile... produced food for a swarming non-agricultural popu- 
lation, and this food, belonging to the monarch and the priesthood, 
afforded the means of erecting the mighty monuments which 
filled the land.... In moving the colossal statues and vast masses 
of which the transport creates wonder, human labour almost alone, 
was prodigally used.... The number of the labourers and the con- 
centration of their efforts sufficed. We see mighty coral reefs rising 
from the depths of the ocean into islands and firm land, yet each 
individual depositor is puny, weak, and contemptible. The non- 
agricultural labourers of an Asiatic monarchy have little but then- 
individual bodily exertions to bring to the task, but their number 
is their strength, and the power of directing these masses gave rise 


to the palaces and temples, the pyramids, and the armies of gi- 
gantic statues of which the remains astonish and perplex us. It 
is that confinement of the revenues which feed them, to one or a 
few hands, which makes such undertakings possible." ' This power 
of Asiatic and Egyptian kings, Etruscan theocrats, &c, has in 
modern society been transferred to the capitalist, whether he be an 
isolated, or as in joint-stock companies, a collective capitalist. 

Co-operation, such as we find it at the dawn of human devel- 
opment, among races who live by the chase, 2 or, say, in the agri- 
culture of Indian communities, is based, on the one hand, on own- 
ership in common of the means of production, and on the other 
hand, on the fact, that in those cases, each individual has no more 
torn himself off from the navel-string of his tribe or community, 
than each bee has freed itself from connexion with the hive. Such 
co-operation is distinguished from capitalistic co-operation by 
both of the above characteristics. The sporadic application of co- 
operation on a large scale in ancient times, in the middle ages, and 
in modern colonies, reposes on relations of dominion and servi- 
tude, principally on slavery. The capitalistic form, on the con- 
trary, pre-supposes from first to last, the free wage-labourer, who 
sells his labour power to capital. Historically, however, this form 
is developed in opposition to peasant agriculture and to the carry- 
ing on of independent handicrafts whether in guilds or not. 3 From 
the standpoint of these, capitalistic co-operation does not man- 
ifest itself as a particular historical form of co-operation, but co- 
operation itself appears to be a historical form peculiar to, and spe- 
cifically distinguishing, the capitalist process of production. 

Just as the social productive power of labour that is developed 
by co-operation, appears to be the productive power of capital, 
so co-operation itself, contrasted with the process of production 
carried on by isolated independent labourers, or even by small em- 

1 R. Jones. "Textbook of Lectures," &c, pp. 77, 78. The ancient Assyr- 
ian, Egyptian, and other collections in London, and in other European capi- 
tals, make us eye-witnesses of the modes of carrying on that co-operative 

2 Linguet is probably right, when in his "Theorie des Lois Civiles," 
he declares hunting to be the first form of co-operation, and man-hunting 
(war) one of the earliest forms of hunting. 

8 Peasant agriculture on a small scale, and the carrying on of independ- 
ent handicrafts, which together form the basis of the feudal mode of produc- 
tion, and after the dissolution of that system, continue side by side with 
the capitalist mode, also form the economic foundation k of the classical com- 
munities at their best, after the primitive form of ownership of land in com- 
mon had disappeared, and before slavery had seized on production in earnest. 



ployers, appears to be a specific form of the capitalist process of 
production. It is the first change experienced by the actual labour- 
process, when subjected to capital. This change takes place spon- 
taneously. The simultaneous employment of a large number of 
wage-labourers, in one and the same process, which is a necessary 
condition of this change, also forms the starting-point of capital- 
ist production. This point coincides with the birth of capital 
itself. If then, on the one hand, the capitalist mode of production 
presents itself to us historically, as a necessary condition to the 
transformation of the labour-process into a social process, so, on 
the other hand, this social form of the labour-process presents it- 
self, as a method employed by capital for the more profitable ex- 
ploitation of labour, by increasing that labour's productiveness. 

In the elementary form, under which we have hitherto viewed 
it, co-operation is a necessary concomitant of all production on a 
large scale, but it does not, in itself, represent a fixed form charac- 
teristic of a particular epoch in the development of the capitalist 
mode of production. At the most it appears to do so, and that only 
approximately, in the handicraft-like beginnings of manufacture, l 
and in that kind of agriculture on a large scale, which corresponds 
to the epoch of manufacture, and is distinguished from peasant 
agriculture, mainly by the number of the labourers simultaneously 
employed, and by the mass of the means of production concentrated 
for their use. Simple co-operation is always the prevailing form, in 
those branches of production in which capital operates on a large 
scale, and division of labour and machinery play but a subordi- 
nate part. 

Go-operation ever constitutes the fundamental form of the 
capitalist mode of production; nevertheless the elementary form 
of co-operation continues to subsist as a particular form of capi- 
talist production side by side with the more developed forms of 
that mode of production. 

1 "Whether the united skill, industry, and emulation of many together 
on the same work be not the way to advance it? And whether it had been oth- 
erwise possible for England, to have carried on her Woollen Manufacture to so 
great a perfection?" (Berkeley. "The Querist." London, 1751, p. 56, par. 521.) 




That co-operation which is based on division of labour, assumes 
its typical form in manufacture, and is the prevalent character- 
istic form of the capitalist process of production throughout the 
manufacturing period properly so called. That period, roughly 
speaking, extends from the middle of the 16th to the last third 
of the 18th century. 

Manufacture takes its rise in two ways: — 

(1.) By the assemblage, in one workshop under the control of 
a single capitalist, of labourers belonging to various independent 
handicrafts, but through whose hands a given article must pass on 
its way to completion. A carriage, for example, was formerly the 
product of the labour of a great number of independent artificers, 
such as wheelwrights, harness-makers, tailors, locksmiths, up- 
holsterers, turners, fringe-makers, glaziers, painters, polishers, 
gilders, &c. In the manufacture of carriages, however, all these 
different artificers are assembled in one building where they work 
into one another's hands. It is true that a carriage cannot be gilt 
before it has been made. But if a number of carriages are being made 
simultaneously, some may be in the hands of the gilders while 
othtTS are going through an earlier process. So far, we are still 
in the domain of simple co-operalion, which finds its materials 
ready to hand in the shape of men and things. But very soon an im- 
portant change takes place. The tailor, the locksmith, and the oth- 
er artificers, being now exclusively occupied in carriage-making, 
each gradually loses, through want of practice, the ability to 
carry on, to its full extent, his old handicraft. But, on the other 
hand, his activity now confined in one groove, assumes the form 
best adapted to the narrowed sphere of action. At first, carriage 
manufacture is a combination of various independent handicrafts. 


By degrees, it becomes the splitting up of carriage-making int© its 
various detail processes, each of which crystallises into the ex- 
clusive function of a particular workman, the manufacture, as a 
whole, being carried on by the men in conjunction. In the same 
way, cloth manufacture, as also a whole series of other manufac- 
tures, arose by combining different handicrafts together under the 
control of a single capitalist. l 

(2.) Manufacture also arises in a way exactly the reverse of 
this— namely, by one capitalist employing simultaneously in 
one workshop a number of artificers, who all do the same, or the 
same kind of work, such as making paper, type, or needles. This 
is co-operation in its most elementary form. Each of these artific- 
ers (with the help, perhaps, of one or two apprentices), makes the 
entire commodity, and he consequently performs in succession 
all the operations necessary for its production. He still works in 
his old handicraft-like way. But very soon external circumstances 
cause a different use to be made of the concentration of the work- 
men on one spot, and of the simultaneousness of their work. An in- 
creased quantity of the article has perhaps to be delivered within 
a given time. The work is therefore re-distributed. Instead of each 
man being allowed to perform all the various operations in suc- 
cession, these operations are changed into disconnected, isolated 
ones, carried on side by side; each is assigned to a different arti- 
ficer, and the whole of them together are performed simultaneous- 
ly by the co-operating workmen. This accidental repartition gets 
repeated, develops advantages of its own, and gradually ossifies 
into a systematic division of labour. The commodity, from being 
the individual product of an independent artificer, becomes the so- 
cial product of a union of artificers, each of whom performs one, 

1 To give a more modern instance: The silk spinning and weaving of 
Lyons and Nimes "est toute patriarcale; elle emploie beaucoup de femmes et 
d'enfants, mais sans les epuiser ni les corrompre; elle les laisse dans leur 
belles vallees de la Drome, du Var, de I'lsere, de Vaucluse, pour y elever 
des vers et devider leurscocons; jamais elle n'entre dans une veritable fabri- 
que Pour el re aussi bien observe ... leprincipe de la division du travail s'y 
revet d'un caractere special II y a bien des devideuses, des moulineurs. des 
teinturiers, des encolleurs, puis des tisserands; mais its ne sont pas reunis 
dans un ineine etablissement, ne dependent pas d'un meme maitre; tons ils 
sont independants " (A. Blanqui: "Cours d'Econ Industrielle" Recueilli 
par A Blaise Paris, 1838-39, p 79.) Since Blanqui wrote this, the vari- 
ous independent labourers have, to some extent, been united in factories. 
[And since Marx wrote the above, the power-loom has invaded these facto- 
ries, and is now— 1886— rapidly superseding the hand-loom. {Added in 
the 4th German edition.— The Krefeld silk industry also has its tale to 
tell anent this subject.)—/* 1 . E.\ 


and only one, of the constituent partial operations. The same oper- 
ations which, in the case of a papermaker belonging to a German 
Guild, merged one into the other as the successive acts of one arti- 
ficer, became in the Dutch paper manufacture so many partial oper- 
ations carried on side by side by numerous co-operating labour- 
ers. The needlemaker of the Nuremberg Guild was the corner- 
stone on which the English needle manufacture was raised. 
But while in Nuremberg that single artificer performed a series 
of perhaps 20 operations one after another, in England it was 
not long before there were 20 needlemakers side by side, each 
performing one alone of those 20 operations, and in consequence 
of further experience, each of those 20 operations was again 
split up, isolated, and made the exclusive function of a separate 

The mode in which manufacture arises, its growth out of hand- 
icrafts, is therefore two-fold. On the one hand, it arises from the 
union of various independent handicrafts, which become stripped 
of their independence and specialised to such an extent as to be re- 
duced to mere supplementary partial processes in the production 
of one particular commodity. On the other hand, it arises from the 
co-operation of artificers of one handicraft; it splits up that partic- 
ular handicraft into its various detail operations, isolating, and 
making these operations independent of one another up to the point 
where each becomes the exclusive function of a particular la- 
bourer. On the one hand, therefore, manufacture either introduces 
division of labour into a process of production, or further devel- 
ops that division; on the other hand, it unites together handicrafts 
that were formerly separate. But whatever may have been its 
particular starting-point, its final form is invariably the same — 
a productive mechanism whose parts are human beings. 

For a proper understanding of the division of labour in manu- 
facture, it is essential that the following points be firmly 
grasped. First, the decomposition of a process of production into its 
various successive steps coincides, here, strictly with the resolu- 
tion of a handicraft into its successive manual operations. Whether 
complex or simple, each operation has to be done by hand, retains 
the character of a handicraft, and is therefore dependent on the 
strength, skill, quickness, and sureness, of the individual work- 
man in handling his tools. The handicraft continues to be the 
basis. This narrow technical basis excludes a really scientific 
analysis of any definite process of industrial production, since it is 
still a condition that each detail process gone through by the prod- 
uct must be capable of being done by hand and of forming, in its 


way, a separate handicraft. It is just because handicraft skill con- 
tinues, in this way, to be the foundation of the process of produc- 
tion, that each workman becomes exclusively assigned to a partial 
function, and that for the rest of his life, his labour-power is 
turned into the organ of this detail function. 

Secondly, this division of labour is a particular sort of co- 
operation, and many of its disadvantages spring from the general 
character of co-operation, and not from this particular form of it. 


If we now go more into detail, it is, in the first place, clear 
that a labourer who all his life performs one and the same simple 
operation, converts his whole body into the automatic, special- 
ised implement of that operation. Consequently, he takes less 
time in doing it, than the artificer who performs a whole series of 
operations in succession. But the collective labourer, who consti- 
tutes the living mechanism of manufacture, is made up solely of 
such specialised detail labourers. Hence, in comparison with the 
independent handicraft, more is produced in a given time, or the 
productive power of labour is increased. 1 Moreover, when once 
this fractional work is established as the exclusive function of one 
person, the methods it employs become perfected. The workman's 
continued repetition of the same simple act, and the concentra- 
tion of his attention on it, teach him by experience how to attain 
the desired effect with the minimum of exertion. But since there 
are always several generations of labourers living at one time, 
and working together at the manufacture of a given article, the 
technical skill, the tricks of the trade thus acquired, become es- 
tablished, and are accumulated and handed down. 2 Manufacture, 
in fact, produces the skill of the detail labourer, by reproducing, 
and systematically driving to an extreme within the workshop, 
the naturally developed differentiation of trades, which it found 
ready to hand in society at large. On the other hand, the conver- 
sion of fractional work into the life-calling of one man, corresponds 
to the tendency shown by earlier societies, to make trades heredi- 
tary; either to petrify them into castes, or whenever definite his- 
torical conditions beget in the individual a tendency to vary in a 

1 "The more any manufacture of much variety shall be distributed and 
assigned to different artists, the same must needs be better done and with 
greater expedition, with less loss of time and labour." ("The Advantages of 
the East India Trade," Lond , 1720, p. 71.) 

2 "Easy labour is transmitted skill." (Th. Ilodgskin, "Popular Politi- 
cal Economy," p. 48.) 


manner incompatible with the nature of castes, to ossify them into 
guilds. Castes and guilds arise from the action of the same natural 
law, that regulates the differentiation of plants and animals into 
species and varieties, except that, when a certain degree of devel- 
opment has been reached, the heredity of castes and the exclu- 
siveness of guilds are ordained as a law of society. * "The muslins of 
Dakka in fineness, the calicoes and other piece goods of Coroman- 
del in brilliant and durable colours, have never been surpassed. 
Yet they are produced without capital, machinery, division of la- 
bour, or any of those means which give such facilities to the manu- 
facturing interest of Europe. The weaver is merely a detached in- 
dividual, working a web when ordered of a customer, and with a 
loom of the rudest construction, consisting sometimes of a few 
branches or bars of wood, put roughly together. There is even no 
expedient for rolling up the warp; the loom must therefore be kept 
stretched to its full length, and becomes so inconveniently large, 
that it cannot be contained within the hut of the manufacturer, 
who is therefore compelled to ply his trade in the open air, where it 
is interrupted by every vicissitude of the weather." 2 It is only the 
special skill accumulated from generation to generation, and 
transmitted from father to son, that gives to the Hindu, as it does 
to the spider, this proficiency. And yet the work of such a Hindu 
weaver is very complicated, compared with that of a manufactur- 
ing labourer. 

An artificer, who performs one after another the various frac- 
tional operations in the production of a finished article, must at 
one time change his place, at another his tools. The transition from 
one operation to another interrupts the flow of his labour, and cre- 
ates, so to say, gaps in his working-day .These gaps close up so soon as 

1 "The arts also have ... in Egypt reached the requisite degree of per- 
fection. For it is the only country where artificers may not in any way med- 
dle with the affairs of another class of citizens, but must follow that calling 
alone which by law is hereditary in their clan.... In other countries it is 
found that tradesmen divide their attention between too many objects. 
At one time they try agriculture, at another they take to commerce, at an- 
other they busy themselves with two or three occupations at once. In free coun- 
tries, they mostly frequent the assemblies of the people.... In Egypt, on the 
contrary, every artificer is severely punished if he meddles with affairs of 
State, or carries on several trades at once. Thus there is nothing to disturb 
their application to their calling.... Moreover, since, they inherit from their 
forefathers numerous rules, they are eager to discover fresh advantages." 
(Diodorus Siculus: Bibl. Hist. I, 1. c, 74.) 

2 "Historical and descriptive account of Brit India, v &c ," by Hugh Mur- 
ray and James Wilson, &c, Edinburgh 1832. v. II., p. 449. The Indian 
loom is upright, i.e., the warp is stretched vertically. 


he is tied to one and the same operation all day long; they vanish 
in proportion as the changes in his work diminish. The resulting 
increased productive power is owing either to an increased expend- 
iture of labour-power in a given time— i.e., to increased inten- 
sity of labour — or to a decrease in the amount of labour-power 
unproductively consumed. The extra expenditure of power, demand- 
ed by every transition from rest to motion, is made up for by pro- 
longing the duration of the normal velocity when once acquired. On 
the other hand, constant labour of one uniform kind disturbs the 
intensity and flow of a man's animal spirits, which find recreation 
and delight in mere change of activity. 

The productiveness of labour depends not only on the profi- 
ciency of the workman, but on the perfection of his tools. Tools of 
the same kind, such as knives, drills, gimlets, hammers, &c, may 
be employed in different processes; and the same tool may serve va- 
rious purposes in a single process. But so soon as the different oper- 
ations of a labour-process are disconnected the one from the other, 
and each fractional operation acquires in the hands of the detail 
labourer a suitable and peculiar form, alterations become neces- 
sary in the implements that previously served more than one pur- 
pose. The direction taken by this change is determined by the dif- 
ficulties experienced in consequence of the unchanged form of the 
implement. Manufacture is characterised by the differentiation of 
the instruments of labour— a differentiation whereby implements 
of a given sort acquire fixed shapes, adapted to each particular ap- 
plication, and by the specialisation of those instruments, giving 
to each special implement its full play only in the hands of a spe- 
cific detail labourer. In Birmingham alone 500 varieties of hammers 
are produced, and not only is each adapted to one particular proc- 
ess, but several varieties often serve exclusively for the different 
operations in one and the same process. The manufacturing period 
simplifies, improves, and multiplies the implements of labour, by 
adapting them to the exclusively special functions of each detail 
labourer. 1 It thus creates at the same time one of the material 

1 Darwin in his epoch-making work on the origin of species, remarks, 
with reference to the natural organs of plants and animals, "So long as one 
and the same organ has different kinds of work to perform, a ground lor its 
changeability may possibly be found in this, that natural selection preserves 
or suppresses each small variation of form less carefully than if that organ 
were destined for one special purpose alone. Thus, knives that are adapted to 
cut all sorts of things, may, on the whole, be of one shape; but an implement 
destined to be used exclusively in oneway must have a different shape tor 
every different use." 


conditions for the existence of machinery, which consists of a 
combination of simple instruments. 

The detail labourer and his implements are the simplest ele- 
ments of manufacture. Let us now turn to its aspect as a whole. 




The organisation of manufacture has two fundamental forms 
which, in spite of occasional blending, are essentially different 
in kind, and, moreover, play very distinct parts in the subsequent 
transformation of manufacture into modern industry carried on by 
machinery. This double character arises from the nature of the ar- 
ticle produced. This article either results from the mere mechani- 
cal fitting together of partial products made independently, or 
owes its completed shape to a series of connected processes and 

A locomotive, for instance, consists of more than 5,000 inde- 
pendent parts. It cannot, however, serve as an example of the first 
kind of genuine manufacture, for it is a structure produced by 
modern mechanical industry. But a watch can; and William Petty 
used it to illustrate the division of labour in manufacture. For- 
merly the individual work of a Nuremberg artificer, the watch has 
been transformed into the social product of an immense number 
of detail labourers, such as mainspring makers, dial makers, spi- 
ral spring makers, jewelled hole makers, ruby lever makers, hand 
makers, case makers, screw makers, gilders, with numerous sub- 
divisions, such as wheel makers (brass and steel separate), pin mak- 
ers, movement makers, acheveur de pignon (fixes the wheels on 
the axles, polishes the facets, &c), pivot makers, planteur de fmis- 
sage (puts the wheels and springs in the works), finisseur de baril- 
let (cuts teeth in the wheels, makes the holes of the right size, 
&c), escapement makers, cylinder makers for cylinder escape- 
ments, escapement wheel makers, balance wheel makers, raquette 
makers (apparatus for regulating the watch), the planteur d'ech- 
appement (escapement maker proper); then the repasseur de ba- 
rillet (finishes the box for the spring, &c), steel polishers, wheel 
polishers, screw polishers, figure painters, dial enamellers (melt 
the enamel on the copper), fabricant de pendants (makes the ring 
by which the case is hung), finisseur de charniere (puts the brass 
hinge in the cover, &c), faiseur de secret (puts in the springs that 
open the case), graveur, ciseleur, polisseur de boite, &c, &c, and 
last of all the repasseur, who fits together the whole watch and 


hands it over in a going state. Only a few parts of the watch pass 
through several hands; and all these membra disjecta come togeth- 
er for the first time in the hand that binds them into one mechan- 
ical whole. This external relation between the finished product, 
and its various and diverse elements makes it, as well in this case 
as in the case of all similar finished articles, a matter of chance 
whether the detail labourers are brought together in one workshop 
or not. The detail operations may further be carried on like so many 
independent handicrafts, as they are in the Cantons of Vaud and 
Neufchatel; while in Geneva there exist large watch manufactories 
where the detail labourers directly co-operate under the control 
of a single capitalist. And even in the latter case the dial, the 
springs, and the case, are seldom made in the factory itself. To 
carry on the trade as a manufacture, with concentration of work- 
men, is, in the watch trade, profitable only under exceptional con- 
ditions, because competition is greater between the labourers who 
desire to work at home, and because the splitting up of the work 
into a number of heterogeneous processes, permits but little use of 
the instruments of labour in common, and the capitalist, by scat- 
tering the work, saves the outlay on workshops, &c. x Nevertheless 
the position of this detail labourer who, though he works at home, 
does so for a capitalist (manufacturer, etablisseur), is very differ- 
ent from that of the independent artificer, who works for his own 
customers. 3 

The second kind of manufacture, its perfected form, pro- 
duces articles that go through connected phases of development, 

1 In the year 1854 Geneva produced 80,000 watches, which is not one- 
fifth of the production in the Canton of Neufchatel. La Chaux-de-Fond alone, 
which we may look upon as a huge watch manufactory, produces yearly 
twice as many as Geneva. From 1850-61 Geneva produced 720,000 watches. 
See "Report from Geneva on the Watch Trade" in "Reports by H. M.'s Secre- 
taries of Embassy and Legation on the Manufactures, Commerce, &c, No. 6, 
1863." The want of connexion alone, between the processes into which the pro- 
duction of articles that merely consist of parts fitted together is split up, 
makes it very difficult to convert such a manufacture into a branch of modern 
industry carried on by machinery; but in the case of a watch there are two 
other impediments in addition, the minuteness and delicacy of its parts, 
and its character as an article of luxury. Hence their variety, which is such, 
that in the best London houses scarcely a dozen watches are made alike in the 
course of a year. The watch manufactory of Messrs. Vacheron & Constan- 
ts, in which machinery has been employed with success, produces at the 
most three or four different varieties of size and form 

2 In watchmaking, that classical example of heterogeneous manufac- 
ture, we may study with great accuracy the above-mentioned differentiation 
and specialisation of the instruments of labour caused by the sub-division 
of handicrafts. 


through a series of processes step by step, like the wire in the manu- 
facture of needles, which passes through the hands of 72 and 
sometimes even 92 different detail workmen. 

In so far as such a manufacture, when first started, combines 
scattered handicrafts, it lessens the space by which the various 
phases of production are separated from each other. The time tak- 
en in passing from one stage to another is shortened, so is the la- 
bour that effectuates this passage. 1 In comparison with a handi- 
craft, productive power is gained, and this gain is owing to the 
general co-operative character of manufacture. On the other hand, 
division of labour, which is the distinguishing principle of manu- 
facture, requires the isolation of the various stages of production 
and their independence of each other. The establishment and 
maintenance of a connexion between the isolated functions neces- 
sitates the incessant transport of the article from one hand to 
another, and from one process to another. From the standpoint of 
modern mechanical industry, this necessity stands forth as a 
characteristic and costly disadvantage, and one that is immanent 
in the principle of manufacture. 2 

If we confine our attention to some particular lot of raw mate- 
rials, of rags, for instance, in paper manufacture, or of wire in nee- 
dle manufacture, we perceive that it passes in succession through 
a series of stages in the hands of the various detail workmen 
until completion. On the other hand, if we look at the workshop 
as a whole, we see the raw material in all the stages of its produc- 
tion at the same time. The collective labourer, with one set of 
his many hands armed with one kind of tools, draws the wire, 
with another set, armed with different tools, he at the same time, 
straightens it, with another, he cuts it, with another, points it, 
and so on. The different detail processes, which were successive 
in time, have become simultaneous, go on side by side in space. 
Hence, production of a greater quantum of finished commodities 
in a given time. 3 This simultaneity, it is true, is due to the general 

1 "In so close a cohabitation of the people, the carriage must needs be 
less." ("The Advantages of the East India Trade," p. 106.) 

2 "The isolation of the different stages of manufacture, consequent upon 
the employment oi manual labour, adds immensely to the cost of production, 
the loss mainly arising from the mere removals from one process to another." 
("The Industry of Nations." Lond., 1855. Part II, p. 200.) 

* "It (the division of labour) produces also an economy ot time by 
separating the work into its different branches, all of which may be carried 
on into execution at the same moment .... By carrying on all the different 
processes at once, whioh an individual must have executed separately, 
it becomes possible to produce a multitude of pins completely finished in the 


co-operative form of the process as a whole; but Manufacture not 
only finds the conditions for co-operation ready to hand, it also, 
to some extent, creates them by the sub-division of handicraft 
labour. On the other hand, it accomplishes this social organisation 
of the labour-process only by riveting each labourer to a single 
fractional detail. 

Since the fractional product of each detail labourer is, at the 
same time, only a particular stage in the development of one and 
the same finished article, each labourer, or each group of labourers, 
prepares the raw material for another labourer or group. The re- 
sult of the labour of the one is the starting-point for the labour of 
the other. The one workman therefore gives occupation directly 
to the other. The labour-time necessary in each partial process, for 
attaining the desired effect, is learnt by experience, and the mech- 
anism of Manufacture, as a whole, is based on the assumption 
that a given result will be obtained in a given time. It is only on 
this assumption that the various supplementary labour-processes 
can proceed uninterruptedly, simultaneously, and side by side. 
It is clear that this direct dependence of the operations, and there- 
fore of the labourers, on each other, compels each one of them to 
spend on his work no more than the necessary time, and thus a 
continuity, uniformity, regularity, order, 1 and even intensity of 
labour, of quite a different kind, is begotten than is to be found in 
an independent handicraft or even in simple co-operation. The 
rule, that the labour-time expended on a commodity should not 
exceed that which is socially necessary for its production, appears, 
in the production of commodities generally, to be established by 
the mere effect of competition; since, to express ourselves superfi- 
cially, each single producer is obliged to sell his commodity at 
its market-price. In Manufacture, on the contrary, the turning out 
of a given quantum of product in a given time is a technical law of 
the process of production itself. 2 

Different operations take, however, unequal periods, and yield 
therefore, in equal times unequal quantities of fractional products. 

same Lime as a single pin might have been either cut or pointed." (Dugald 
Stewart, 1. c, p. 319.) 

1 "The more variety ot artists to every manufacture .. the greater the 
order and regularity of every work, the same must needs be done in less time, 
the labour must be less." ("The Advantages," &c, p. 68.) 

2 Nevertheless, the manufacturing system, in many branches oi indus- 
try, attains this result but very imperfectly, because it knows not how to 
control with certainty the general chemical and physical conditions ol the 
process of production. 


If, therefore, the same labourer has, day after day, to perform the 
same operation, there must be a different number of labourers for 
each operation; for instance, in type manufacture, there are four 
founders and two breakers to one rubber: the founder casts 2,000 
type an hour, the breaker breaks up 4,000, and the rubber polishes 
8,000. Here we have again the principle of co-operation in its sim- 
plest form, the simultaneous employment of many doing the same 
thing; only now, this principle is the expression of an organic 
relation. The division of labour, as carried out in Manufacture, 
not only simplifies and multiplies the qualitatively different parts 
of the social collective labourer, but also creates a fixed mathemati- 
cal relation or ratio which regulates the quantitative extent of those 
parts — i.e., the relative number of labourers, or the relative size 
of the group of labourers, for each detail operation. It develops, 
along with the qualitative sub-division of the social labour-proc- 
ess, a quantitative rule and proportionality for that process. 

When once the most fitting proportion has been experimental- 
ly established for the numbers of the detail labourers in the various 
groups when producing on a given scale, that scale can be extended 
only by employing a multiple of each particular group. * There is 
this to boot, that the same individual can do certain kinds of work 
just as well on a large as on a small scale; for instance, the labour 
of superintendence, the carriage of the fractional product from one 
stage to the next, &c. The isolation of such functions, their allot- 
ment to a particular labourer, does not become advantageous till 
after an increase in the number of labourers employed; but this 
increase must affect every group proportionally. 

The isolated group of labourers to whom any particular detail 
function is assigned, is made up of homogeneous elements, and is 
one of the constituent parts of the total mechanism. In many manu- 
factures, however, the group itself is an organised body of labour, 
the total mechanism being a repetition or multiplication of these 
elementary organisms. Take, for instance, the manufacture of glass 
bottles. It may be resolved into three essentially different stages. 
First, the preliminary stage, consisting of the preparation of the 
components of the glass, mixing the sand and lime, &c, and melt- 

1 "When (from the peculiar nature of the produce of each manufactory), 
the number of processes into which it is most advantageous to divide it is 
ascertained, as well as the number of individuals to be employed, then all 
other manufactories which do not employ a direct multiple of this number 
will produce the article at a greater cost.... Hence arises one of the causes 
of the great size of manufacturing establishments." (C. Babbage. "On the 
Economy of Machinery," 1st ed. London, 1832. Ch. xxi., pp. 172-173.) 


ing them into a fluid mass of glass. 1 Various detail labourers are 
employed in this first stage, as also in the final one of removing 
the bottles from the drying furnace, sorting and packing them, 
&c. In the middle, between these two stages, comes the glass 
melting proper, the manipulation of the fluid mass. At each mouth 
of the furnace, there works a group, called "the hole," consisting 
of one bottlemaker or finisher, one blower, one gatherer, one put- 
ter-up or whetter-off, and one taker-in. These five detail workers 
are so many special organs of a single working organism that acts 
only as a whole, and therefore can operate only by the direct co- 
operation of the whole five. The whole body is paralysed if but one 
of its members be wanting. But a glass furnace has several openings 
(in England from 4 to 6), each of which contains an earthenware 
melting-pot full of molten glass, and employs a similar five-mem- 
bered group of workers. The organisation of each group is based 
on division of labour, but the bond between the different groups is 
simple co-operation, which, by using in common one of the means 
of production, the furnace, causes it to be more economically con- 
sumed. Such a furnace, with its 4-6 groups, constitutes a glass 
house; and a glass manufactory comprises a number of such 
glass nouses, together with the apparatus and workmen requisite 
for the preparatory and final stages. 

Finally, just as Manufacture arises in part from the combina- 
tion of various handicrafts, so, too, it develops into a combina- 
tion of various manufactures. The larger English glass manufac- 
turers, for instance, make their own earthenware melting-pots, be- 
cause, on the quality of these depends, to a great extent, the suc- 
cess or failure of the process. The manufacture of one of the means 
of production is here united with that of the product. On the other 
hand, the manufacture of the product may be united with oth- 
er manufactures, of which that product is the raw material, or 
with the products o